Rare ichthyosaur fossil found on beach at Kettleness, near Whitby

A Whitby man has discovered 180 million-year-old vertebrae while hunting for fossils on the beach at Kettleness.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 4:33 pm
The ichthyosaur vertebrae found by Liam Langley at Kettleness

Liam Langley, 26, lives in Whitby and often looks for finds on the remote beaches near his home.

He then shares his discoveries online through his social media accounts, Forgotten Fossils.

Liam said: “I’ve been regularly collecting fossils from the beaches around Whitby for four years.

Liam Langley with his find

“Due to working from home, 12 months ago I moved to Whitby and so am lucky enough to be able to go collecting three to four times a week, weather and tides depending.

“This month I found a large rock on the beach with the remains of a 180 million-year-old sea creature called an ichthyosaur that was swimming in the seas at the same time as dinosaurs were on land.

“It contains nine articulated backbones from the extinct sea creature.

“I dragged the large rock back from the rope access beach at Kettleness all the way to Runswick Bay. ”

Liam has also found a Lepidotes fossil

Because the top of the rock had been battered by the sea, Liam had the piece cut and polished to show the beautiful structure of the fossil bone.

Liam said: “I didn’t initially split the rock open.

“It was a large block stuck in the sand at Kettleness and the ichthyosaur bones were protruding out of the very top.

“I had it professionally prepared by Mark Hawkes at Stone Treasures who cut the block down the size with a polished finish.

One of Liam's many finds

Liam’s love of palaeontology was established when at four years old, while on a day trip to Whitby, his parents bought him his first ammonite.

Since then he has been fascinated by all things fossil-related.

It’s not the first time Liam has uncovered a rare find on the beaches around Whitby.

He said: “I have many self found fossils from the Whitby area including a beautiful fossil fish (Lepidotes species) which I found at Saltwick Bay last year.

“I also have a large ichthyosaur paddle (Flipper section) which is currently in preparation.”

To find out more about Liam’s unusual discoveries, you can follow him online at www.tiktok.com/@forgottenfossils, www.youtube.com/forgottenfossils or www.instagram.com/forgottenfossils

Liam said: “Fossil Hunting is a fantastic outdoor hobby which provides plenty of fresh air, exercise and excitement for all ages.

“The one thing to bear in mind is the tide times and to stay well clear from under the cliff as rock falls are frequent and dangerous.”

Discover more at Whitby Museum

Roger Osborne, Curator of Geology at Whitby Museum ,said of the find: “It’s a very nice set of vertebrae and an excellent find.

“Ichthyosaurs swam in the seas around Whitby in the early Jurassic period and their backbones are often preserved as fossils.”

The museum in Pannett Park has fantastic giant Jurassic reptiles like ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs on display. “Fossil hunting is fun,” Roger added, “but please take care – watch the tides and avoid the bottom of steep cliffs.”

Whitby Museum is open from 10.30am to 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday.