Visit to old fossils
On Thursday 21st November members of the Tea at the Museum group visited the Etches Collection at Kimmeridge for the afternoon. This is a modern, purpose built museum housing the lifetime collection of Jurassic marine fossils (157 million years ago) belonging to Dr Steve Etches. A resident of Kimmeridge village, Steve’s passion has been to collect and reveal the wonderful fossils along a five mile stretch of coastline close to his home and from a couple of local inland quarries. A National Lottery grant enabled the community to build a modern village hall and a stunning museum to house Steve’s collection; it opened in 2016.
Steve’s star finds are displayed in large display cases arranged according to themes and our excellent guide, Sarah, explained clearly what we were looking at and why it was important. Steve has found some completely new species including the “missing link” in the evolution of bivalve molluscs for which Darwin had searched but been unable to find! The collection is internationally important and Sarah explained it all to us in a most interesting way.
It can difficult to imagine what a prehistoric creature looks like based on some fossilised bones. The museum solves this problem in two imaginative ways. The first is to project onto the sloping ceiling images of marine creatures swimming through the warm Jurassic seas and the group enjoyed watching ichthyosaurs, ammonites and predatory cuttlefish ‘swimming’ across the ceiling, much as one would in a viewing tunnel in an aquarium.
Some of the group enjoyed engaging with the museum’s latest technological innovation – using a Bournemouth university designed program to create three dimensional representations of some of the Jurassic creatures that could be walked around as though they were actually in the gallery.
Earlier fine weather turned to afternoon rain but that did not deter our hardy group from making the short trip across the road to the Clavell Restaurant for tea and cake. On the way home, some of us met a large group of friendly and curious locals…