The Isle of Wight is widely regarded as the best place in Europe to find dinosaur fossils. Although fossils can be found all over the United Kingdom and Europe, there are few places that members of the public can go to find their own fossilised dinosaur remains, and the Isle of Wight remains one of them.
So, how can you hunt your own fossils on the Island?
Firstly, it’s important to know where to look. The Isle of Wight has two main areas where dinosaur bones can be found loose on the beach. The smallest area is Yaverland beach, near Sandown, with the main search area being approximately 100 metres long. The second area is approximately 6 miles long on the south-west coast of the Island and stretches from Atherfield to Compton – with Brook beach near us being included in the search area! So, make sure you centre your search around these two locations to be in with the most success.
Secondly, it’s essential to know what you’re looking for. All of the dinosaur fossils found on the Isle of Wight are from rocks of the Lower Cretaceous period and are around 120 million years old. Dinosaur fossils have been collected here since the 1850s officially, but the discovery of their large bones by locals goes back much further than this. To date there are over 20 different types of dinosaurs discovered on the Isle of Wight including the Iguanodon, Eotyrannus, Pelorosaurus and the Polacanthus, amongst many more.
What’s more, hunters on the Island don’t just find dinosaur fossils on Isle of Wight fossil walks. The other fossils that can be found include: Fossil Wood and ‘Fool’s Gold’ (Iron Pyrite), Crocodiles, Turtles, Pterosaurs, Fish, Sea Urchins, Fossil Mussels, Fossil Oysters, Brachiopods, Ammonites, Corals, Sponges, Quartz crystals, Gypsum Crystals and more!
The best way to see these fossils is undoubtedly through a group or private tour with an experienced fossil hunter. Dinosaur Expeditions on the Island run Fossil Hunting Trips across the Island beaches, in two hours trips that start at one of five different locations across the south-west coast of the Isle of Wight. You can set off from near us at Brook House at Brook Chine, or from Atherfield (Shepherds Chine), Grange Chine, Chilton Chine, and Compton Hanover Point Car Park.
We’d recommend starting from Brook Chine, as the guide team will also be able to showcase the dinosaur foot-casts and footprints that are naturally exposed on Brook Chine, as it’s truly a wonder to behold!
The Dinosaur Expeditions team will meet public groups before taking you down on to the beach and give them an overview of the different fossils that can be found there. They will show groups examples of different fossils, and then will help you as you try to find your own – identifying your finds for you when you do get them, so that you can proudly show them off accurately when you get home!
If you want to find out more about fossil hunting trips on the Isle of Wight, take a look at this website here.