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The Fossil Man of Charmouth

Barney Hansford is a Charmouth fossil hunter with a rocking good collection.

News 1965 6 mins

From the collection of:

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TV reporter Clive Gunnell is at Charmouth Beach in Dorset with specialist fossil hunter and exhibitor Barney Hansford. The beach is part of the Jurassic World Heritage Coastline and a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI). Paleontologists study fossils and date them to a specific geologic time scale (GTC) of supereons, eons, eras, periods, epochs and ages. Fossils such as ammonites are known as index fossils because they may be dated to a specific GTC.

Ammonites are extinct marine molluscs related to octopuses, squid and cuttlefish but look like a Nautilus. Ammonites are found in the higher limestones of the Blue Lias geologic formation of the Triassic and Jurassic periods of 195 to 200 million years ago. Other fossils found include belemnites, which are squid-like and crinoids which are plant-like sea lilies. Black Ven cliff is famous for ichthyosaur bones and fish fossils. The rocks along the Jurassic Coast span the period of time known as the Age of the Reptiles, which includes the era of the dinosaurs. Barney Hansford was known locally as the Fossil Man and exhibited and sold fossils. His collection was bequeathed to local museums in the 1980s.