A prolific fossil hunter from Peterborough may have made his most exciting find yet - a huge 165 million-year-old fish, perhaps unknown to science.
Jamie Jordan (22), founder of Fossils Galore, discovered the prehistoric relic while overseeing a digging operation by brickmakers Hanson at one of the firm’s clay quarries in the Whittlesey area.
Mr Jordan, a self-educated paleontologist who has lectured at the University of Cambridge, believes the specimen is either the most complete find of the little understood leedsichthys problematicus or an as yet undiscovered ancestor of the beast.
Mr Jordan and other volunteers from Fossils Galore have already found more than 8,000 bones from just one per cent of the material recovered from the site and estimates the project may last five to six years.
He said: “Every day I work on it it’s like living the dream. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Mr Jordan said he was left “gobsmacked” when Hanson’s digger unearthed the fossilised remains of the fish in front of his eyes in May. He said: “I jumped straight down there as soon as I saw it and told the digger to stop. I shouted at the driver because I didn’t want it to get destroyed.”
Between June 14 and June 22, the specimen was excavated by volunteers from Fossils Galore. The depth of the find means the specimen pre-dates the previously discovered examples of leedsichthys problematicus by seven million years and, in addition, the unusual nature of the bones may mean it is a forebearer of the Jurassic creature.
Mr Jordan, from Werrington, said: “We have come across bones which we have never seen before.”
On the basis of the fossils, Mr Jordan estimates the beast may have been 26 metres long. David Weeks, spokesman for Hanson, said: “It shows the important part the quarry industry has to play in discovering and protecting our heritage.
“We are very keen to do whatever we can to help the archaeologists understand what life was like in the this part of the world millions of years ago.”
You can see the team work on the find for free at its premises in High Street, March.