In the brickpits of Sussex and Surrey

Amateur geologists have found a remarkable array of fossils from quarries used to extract the Weald Clay for brickmaking.

In the brickpits of Sussex and Surrey
Are fossils of life that’s long dead:
There’s an arthropod trackway, teleost1 fish,
Amber, and a Plant Debris Bed;

There are earwigs, weevils and beetles,
Crickets and old termite poo,
Snakeflies and lacewings, clam shrimps and wasps,
Crocodile teeth, and frogs, too!
Egg cases of sharks, a small fish jaw,
Fishy otoliths2, palates and more,
What was almost the world’s first flowering plant3,
Cycads, and molluscs galore.
On this land, in the Lower Cretaceous,
Dinosaurs roamed far and near:
Baryonyx, Iguanodon, Horshamosaurus,
All died and were fossilised here.

From the Weald Clay of Sussex and Surrey
These fossils of life that’s long dead
Have been saved from the heat of the brickmakers’ ovens
And preserved in collections, instead.

1. Ray-finned
2. Ear-stones, which helped the fish to orientate and balance
3. Called
Bevhalstia, but new finds from China might prove to be earlier

Image of Smokejacks quarry: Peter Austen (with permission)
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