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Ichthyosaur from RAMM's collection of fossils

Ichthyosaur from RAMM's collection of fossils


RAMM’s extensive collection of fossils tells an exciting story of life and evolution in Devon. Devonian plants and Triassic reptiles, Jurassic fish and Cretaceous sea urchins, Tertiary leaves and Ice Age Mammal remains. Together they make RAMM’s fossil collection a unique archive of ancient life excavated from local grounds.

RAMM also has fossils from all over the world putting the local collections into their global context.

Listed below are some of RAMM’s most interesting collections of fossils. Visit RAMM’s Down to Earth gallery or explore the collections at home using Collections Explorer.

Ice Age creatures

It’s hard to believe that cave bear, hyaena, elephant, bison and hippo were once alive in England. 100,000 years ago they were found near Honiton, Torquay and many other Devon locations. Important sites and finds include:

Kent’s Cavern, Torquay – some of the most informative and important caves in the country. Prehistoric hyaena, horse, bear and mammoth bones were found.

The Honiton Hippo – remains were found while the first Honiton bypass was being built in 1965

Mammoth in Newton Poppleford

Triassic life

Otter Sandstone fossils

The Otter Sandstone is an internationally important source of Triassic fossils. These rocks are 245 – 235 million years old and form some areas of the exposed red cliffs around Sidmouth and Ladram bay. Although finding fossils in these cliffs is far less common than from the cliffs at Lyme Regis and Charmouth, early reptiles, reptile-like animals, fish and amphibians have been found. RAMM has some exciting fossils from the Otter Sandstone, some of which are on display in the Down to Earth gallery. The Otter Sandstone is instantly recognisable because of its rich red colour.

Budleigh Salterton pebbles

Next time you visit the beach at Budleigh Salterton take a closer look at the round stones under your feet. Some contain fossil bivalve shells, trilobites and brachiopods preserved in Ordovician quartzite. Quartzite is a hard and cherty rock that originates from the north of France. Huge ancient rivers once brought blocks and boulders of this French stone to England. RAMM has an large collection of fossils from the Triassic Budleigh Salterton Pebble Beds.

Jurassic sea monsters

RAMM also holds a wide range of fossils found in the Jurassic cliffs in South Devon and Dorset. Small delicate shark teeth, ammonites of the size of a cart-wheel and fossilised tree stems are just some of the fascinating finds. The highlights however are stunning skeletons of ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs, swimming marine reptiles that ruled the oceans during the Lower Jurassic.

Ichthyosaur vertebrae wash up on the beach near Lyme Regis and if you’re lucky you might find one. RAMM has some beautiful specimens in its collection. Read more about the Jurassic Coast.

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