A PROLIFIC young bone-hunter from the city has started to piece together the 160-million-year-old sea creature he excavated as a teenager.
Jamie Jordan (22), founder of the Fossils Galore museum in the Realitas Community Arts Centre, in Peakirk, freed the skeleton of a plesiosaur with a sledgehammer borrowed from a nearly pub during the summer of 2007.
The Jurassic marine reptile was encased in rock beneath Werrington in Peterborough, where the young fossil expert lives.
Painstaking drilling and dusting work to separate the animal’s delicate prehistoric bones from the rock began last week and could take years to complete.
Jamie said: “It might take two to three years to completely take the rock off the bones.
“The skeleton is 80 per cent complete and belongs to a juvenile plesiosaur that was around 15 metres long.”
Visitors are invited to watch as the museum’s volunteers help Jamie reassemble the skeleton inside his purpose-built “fish bowl” fossil lab, which has been fitted out with benches, a dust extractor and bone tools. Jamie said: “We have to use really fine, specialist pneumatic tools with little vibrating tips on them, grinders and mini-sandblasters to work away the rocks.
“We started work last week and will be working five days a week, including Saturday and Sundays.
“It won’t be just my eyes to see the bones come out for the first time in millions of years, but other people can be there too.”
The amateur palaeontologist has managed to exhibit Fossils Galore’s 12-million strong collection with help from the Prince’s Trust and his family and friends.
His future ambitions include publishing the story of his Werrington plesiosaur in the international Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology and displaying the completed skeleton for school groups and visitors to his museum.
He said: “The bones we have are mainly vertebra, with the rib cage, finger bones and pelvis, and there might be a chance the head is inside as we’ve found some neck bones.
“Every time we touch a bit of rock we find something new.
“At the moment the part we’re preparing is the rib cage. It’s all buckled and crushed and there must have been some force that hit into the animal to kill it.”
Nicknamed the Fossil Kid when he was younger, Jamie has foraged for fossils since he was four years old and prepared his first prehistoric bones aged 11.
He said: “Instead of Pokémon toys my parents got me the tools that I wanted so I could do this type of work.
“Peterborough is the ‘Jurassic hidden area’, We talk about the Jurassic Coast but that’s over-rated.”
To see the plesiosaur bones for yourself visit Fossils Galore from 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 11am to 6pm on Sundays. For more information visit www.fossilsgalore.com.
n Jamie is keen to hear from volunteers and potential sponsors and can be contacted on 07851 556544 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.