Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Some Iddy Widdy Biddies Caught in Stone

Come with us now as we stumble backwards, beyond the abyss of human history, spiralling uncontrollably through the evolution of mankind, descending helplessly past the realms of the dinosaurs, as the convoluted vortex of chronological sequence draws us ever on towards…
On second thoughts, sod that. It’s costing too much in special effects. Let’s go for a walk on Fleetwood beach instead.

That’s Fleetwood beach, look, those two angular patches amongst the greenery being the model yacht lake, with the River Wyre emptying into Morecambe Bay in the background, and beyond that Knott End, all courtesy of Frank and his aerial photography.

But look closer!

You’ll have to look closer than that.

Well go on! Get your nose stuck right into the beach, otherwise you won’t be able to see what we found one day amongst a small patch of otherwise insignificant pebbles.

Any idea what these are? (No smutty answers either!) Yes, obviously they’re pebbles. We can all see that. But what are those weird, half-inflated balloon-like markings on them?

I’ll give you a clue.

They’re fossils.

Too much of clue that, wasn’t it? Never mind, they are fossils whatever the case, small, single-celled ancient marine creatures that once shimmied and rolled their pointless tracks across the sea floor, doing whatever it was that single-celled sea creatures millions of years ago actually did with their time. (Watching Coronation Street and playing Trivial Pursuits probably.)

Some single celled organisms from the dawn of life were quite large by comparison to our own mini-hattifatners, some of the fossils having been discovered in various oceans reaching the size of your average grape. They went in for big and blocky and basic back then. Like cell-phones. Single cell phones, if you like.

Some of the fat ones are still around today, going under the name of Gromia Sphaerica, or the giant deep-sea protist, although I’d like to see them try to spell it.

There are probably quite a few of the other type, the iddy biddy single-celled fossils, on Fleetwood beach if you want look for them. Some aren’t quite so blobby and rubbish either.

Have a gander at this.

Now that, dear friends, is a fossilised shrimp! Or possibly a bit of fern, it’s tricky to say. It’s ancient anyhow, a perfect imprint preserved in stone for hundreds of thousands of millennia, smashed from the rocks in which it was petrified by pounding waves and then hurled angrily around the sea bed for thousands of years, until finally being washed ashore at Fleetwood, where we discovered it, took it home and stuck it on the window ledge in the bog.

Here are a couple more slightly advanced fossils we’ve found on the beach in our time.

The little one on the left is what’s known as a crinoid, or sea lily. They have mouths at the top of their…er…tube bits, surrounded by a number of feeding arms. In fossil form they’re usually broken into pieces (like the one we found) and date back to the mid-Palaeozoic era. (A very, very long time ago.)

Our late friend and archaeological hero Headlie Lawrenson found a fossilised crinoid once, as well. It was in the stream at Broadfleet Bridge, lying amongst a pile of Roman pottery fragments and a wolf’s tooth. What it was doing there is anybody’s guess.

The one on the right is…well to be honest we’re not sure. It might be the Geoff Capes of the crinoid world, to be honest, although we suspect that it’s a fossilised bone belonging to some marine mammal such as a sea cow many millions of years now deceased.

Finally, we have this.

Now that’s a trilobite, which means it’s got ‘three lobes’. (Bet it was popular at parties, and no doubt managed to pull a few muscles in its day.) Trilobites are now extinct but first appeared in the Early Cambrian period (about 542 million years ago) and continued swimmingly, so to speak, throughout the Palaeozoic era before disappearing completely about 250 million years ago.

It’s very rare to find one of these in Fleetwood, so we were well chuffed. We discovered this one in the hippy shop on Lord Street for the very reasonable price of two and a half quid


Bwca Brownie said...

I think I have some trilobites still around on my spouse's side of the famil.

Thanks for photo of Fleetwood Beach: Little Britain Live has a sketch mentioning Ting Tong being threatened with a honeymoon there, and now I know why David Walliams thought that was funny.
it's not as funny as his portrayal of Brian Lewis Jones's accountant in the 2005 film of the Stones murder.

Brian Hughes said...


Personally I find David Walliams about as amusing as childhood leukaemia -- or to put it another way, only slightly more amusing than that bloated whale carcass, Matt Lucas. Little Britain is indicative of the declining standards of the British educational system, playgrounds around the country reverberating to the sounds of 'Yeah I know' and 'Yeah but no but'. Hilarious stuff if you're ten years old and illiterate, but little more than bigotry masquerading as post ironic humour for anybody with an IQ higher than 60.

Marshall-Stacks said...

Annie didn't bring the DVD home, she just saw it.
She's a Frankie Howerd fan herself.

Jayne said...

Wait til FB sees those beauties, there'll be no stopping the boy from jumping on a plane to scavange Fleetwood beach! lol

Brian Hughes said...


Yay, yay, and thrice yay...titter ye not, but Frankie's a good 'un in my book as well missus.


It was only after I'd written this lot up that I realised most of my 'better' (if that's the right word) beach-scavenged fossils were stuck in our back garden path. I was wondering what I'd done with them. Most of the 'less interesting' archaeological finds/rubble from various sites around the Wyre are currently set alongside them.

Jayne said...

Walking around Melbourne I told FB about your blog post and Fleetwood beach with his immediate reaction being "Let's go over, Mum!" lol. Your garden wouldn't be safe, either!
He's currently polishing a fossil cabochon very similar to the two on the top left of your photos, Brian ;)

Brian Hughes said...


I have to be honest, we don't get many impressive fossils on Fleetwood Beach. (Well, if you don't include some of the grockles we don't anyway.) It's the south of England you want for the good stuff, all those dinosaur fossils and big, fat ammonites. However, we do have a good line in fresh haddock, cockles and shrimp and you might even catch a few crabs if you try hard enough. (Please insert the expected insult about the hygiene of Fleetwood locals here.)

Jayne said...

That was a chocolate Scotch Finger bikkie I just spluttered all over your blog, in case you were wondering what the mess was...

WV = water
That would be what our minister was looking for when he became lost in the Victorian Alps.
No, he didn't bring any back.

Brian Hughes said...

No, but I bet he passed quite a lot en route.