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Issue 68

November 2013 Stamford & District Geological Society Published by Stamford & District Geological Society

Jurassic Times The Rutland Dinosaur

Way back in 1968 – before our Geological Society was even thought about – the remains of a Dinosaur were unearthed, just outside Stamford. Williamson Cliff Ltd were a thriving company making firebricks and other hard-wearing bricks from the clay that was dug on their land on the northwestern outskirts of Stamford, approaching Great Casterton. One of their later assignments was to make the bricks that were used to pave the Stamford High Street pedestrian area. The clay they were using was formed by mud on a lake floor, resting on limestone beds. The ‘lake’, or maybe a bog, was about a quarter of a mile square and its residue formed the bottom of the Upper Estuarine Series (Stamford Formation) in the Jurassic, 165 - 170 million years ago. As time went by, further clays were deposited on top, all covered by another hard limestone. The contract for digging out the clay beds for Williamson Cliff was held by the Pipewell Ploughing Company and one Thursday lunchtime in June 1968 the digger driver told his superior that he thought he had unearthed a ‘monster’ and so had left it to dig somewhere else in the quarry. The Plant Manager said he had done the right thing and when he saw the outline of a skeletal backbone he told his Works Director who, since they were working in Rutland, thought Leicester Museum might be interested. He said “They were very keen and came over straight away” The Museum staff then took the lumps – about 4 tons of them – back to Leicester, where they were stored for several years before any work was done on them. Finally, in about 1980, one lump was brought out to be used at a ‘Victorian evening’ demonstrating the old hammer and

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November 2013 Stamford & District Geological Society

chisel type of fossil extraction. It was at this evening that it was realised what an extraordinary fossil this was. The Saurischia Order contains two groups: the two legged Carnivores and the 4 legged Herbivores and in the latter, the 4 legged sauropods comprise 4 families: Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, Camarasaurus and Cetiosaurus, which was first described in England in 1841. Deciding it was a sauropod dinosaur, Leicester contacted Oxford Museum, who had some bones, obtained in 1871 which they called Cetiosaurus and on the strength of this, the Rutland animal was at first described as ‘Cetiosaurus oxoniensis’. But Leicester had much more material than Oxford and realised they would have to go back to the beginning and look at other sauropods found in the world. As well as Oxford, there are specimens in Morocco and Pittsburgh USA, where Leicester staff spent much time at the University Library and the Carnegie Museum, where the steel magnate had paid for the collection of two Cetiosaurus specimens. They found the Pittsburgh Cetiosaurus was very closely related to ours – the same family – but the Rutland specimen is 15/20 million years older. It had been thought they evolved in America and came this way later, but these finds do not substantiate that. The fossil comes back to Stamford! And on 3rd November 1983, John Martin, Keeper of Earth Sciences at Leicester Museum, masterminded the return of the Rutland specimen to Stamford College of Further Education, where several of our members had, under John’s direction, assembled the bones on the floor of the Geography classroom for our monthly meeting. This was the second year of our Society’s existence and the return of the bones for an evening was a great scoop. It was made an ‘open evening’ and about 50 people came to hear John tell the fossil’s history. I still have photographs and the Stamford Mercury accounts of this, but an excellent 10 minute video is available on the website of Leicester Museum, (www.leicester.gov.uk/museums) where John Martin explains how the remains were eventually prepared for display in their new gallery by suspending each individual bone (over 200 of them) from a metal frame in the roof, on stainless steel welding wire formed into cradles, enabling accuracy of fit, alignment and orientation. With so much of the animal having been recovered, it is the most complete sauropod ever found. He says the Rutland Dinosaur remains to this day, the main attraction in the permanent Dinosaur Exhibition in Leicester Museum. Jean Baxter

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November 2013 Stamford & District Geological Society 2013 -2014 PROGRAMME OF WINTER MEETINGS

Meetings are held at Tinwell Village Hall, just outside Stamford, on the second Wednesday of each month, October to March, beginning at 7.30 pm. Anyone wishing to hear a particular speaker should check with a member of the committee. Visitors are welcome; single meeting fee is £3.00. October 9th 2013 Andrew Swift (Editor of Charnia, Leicester Lit. & Phil. Society) “Jurassic Seas – what the Lincolnshire Limestone quarries can tell us” November 13th 2013 Vanessa Banks (British Geological Survey, Keyworth) “Caves, Landslides and Subsidence – the work of the BGS Shallow Geohazards Team” December 11th 2013 Jonathan Larwood (Natural England) “Fossils for the Future – Geoconservation and fitting things together” January 8th 2014 Peter Clarkson (Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge) “Mineral Resources of Antarctica” February 12th 2014 Danielle Schreve (Royal Holloway, University of London) “The Thames through Time” March 12th 2014 Annual General Meeting and short presentations by members 2014 FIELD PROGRAMME During the summer months, Field Meetings are organised to sites in the surrounding area and sometimes further. These are usually at weekends and are dependent on the goodwill of the land or quarry owner together with the commitment of the leader. For quarry visits, hard hats, high viz jackets and stout footwear are essential. Young people under 16 years of age, attending field meetings, must be accompanied and supervised by an adult. We are always interested in attracting new members. Further details, including copies the current Jurassic Times newsletter, can be found on our website at: www.stamfordgeolsoc.org.uk. Members should appreciate that they are responsible for their own safety. The society’s insurance is against third parties. With all field events, let the Field Secretary, Ken Nye, know in good time so we can cater for numbers. The programme for 2014 will be published in the next edition of Jurassic Times. Also check our website www.stamfordgeolsoc.org.uk for

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November 2013 Stamford & District Geological Society SUBSCRIPTIONS Annual Subscriptions for Sept 2013- Aug 2014 Single Membership

£10.00

Family Membership

£15.00

Full Time Students

£3.00

Single Meetings or Visitors

£3.00/£5.00

Further details may be obtained from the Treasurer to the Society. COMMITTEE Chairman

Mrs Sandy Ellis Email: chairman@stamfordgeolsoc.org.uk

Vice-Chairman

Mrs Alison Chambers Email: vicechair@stamfordgeolsoc.org.uk

Field Secretary

Mr Kenneth Nye Email: fieldsecretary@stamfordgeolsoc.org.uk

Lecture Secretary

Dr. David Burgess Email: lecturesecretary@stamfordgeolsoc.org.uk

Treasurer

Miss Sheila Martin, 1 Beverstone, Orton Brimbles, Peterborough. PE2 5YN

Secretary

VACANT

Members

Mrs C. Dunderdale, Mr. I. Crowson, Mr. M. Beeson

EDITORSHIP OF JURASSIC TIMES Jurassic Times is published by the Stamford and District Geological Society. There is a vacancy for an Editor at the present time. It is published quarterly in February, May, August and November. Jurassic Times publishes the proceedings of the Society together with articles of a geological nature and other items of interest to members. Any opinions expressed are those of the individual authors, for which the Society does not accept any responsibility. Articles, comments and any ideas are welcome for any of the forthcoming issues and should be addressed to the editor, as should any correspondence regarding the Newsletter.

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Jurassic Times - November 2013