Friday, April 18, 2014

A Local Fossil

Rather than attach one of my GoPro video cameras to my aircraft, I've been walking around with it this week and used the opportunity, to record, for posterity, the position of the dinosaur fossil at Westgate's St Mildred's Bay.

More accurately, it's the space left by the remains of the fossil skull, once it was removed and taken to the Natural History museum, I think.

This was, I think in 1973 or thereabouts. One of our local characters, 'John' the beach philosopher, discovered it. He was a lovely old chap who always wore shorts the year around, carried a guitar and rode a battered bicycle.

I'm told it was the remains of a small Plesiosaur and unusual because it was found in a chalk deposit. If we have any paleontologists or geologists reading this, perhaps you can lend an expert opinion in the comments section for other readers?

I'm assuming the remainder of the find is buried deep in the cliff and not available for excavation without causing a collapse. When I was a teenager, the outline was very distinct indeed and people mistook the marks of the sinus cavities for the eyes. Today, it's so deeply weathered, you might miss it completely and so, as quite possibly the last person to remember where it is, you can use the video to work out where to find it and perhaps show it to your children or grandchildren before its gone?

Walk west, past the boating pool in St Mildreds Bay and you will find it just before the next set of steps leading down from the promenade to the rocks and beach below. Anyone want to give our Plesiosaur a name?

The next video is from yesterday. I was over at Rochester airport for my annual multi-engine rating renewal test and used the GoPro for a little walk around the often temperamental GA7 Cougar I was flying.

This flight was more interesting and uneventful than most, as this year, high over the Isle of Sheppey, the examiner suggested that for the mandatory loss of an engine drill, that I turn one off completely and restart it, rather than simulate it. Ok, no problem, I shut down the port engine, run through the emergency asymmetric drills, re-balance the aircraft and go through the check list to re-start it. And do you think it would start again?  Err... No.

Not so much a problem or anything unsafe as a mild annoyance, as we then headed back to Rochester to land the aircraft asymmetric, for real rather than as a drill; trying to coax the engine back to life on the way. If this were a real emergency, then Manston would be the obvious choice of runway and let's not forget this in these difficult days for the airport.

Finally, by using a steep turning descent to the left, to windmill the propellor and adding more primer fuel than I would usually expect, the engine sputtered back to life and so that proved to be a very useful and practical lesson, that might one day come-in handy.

But I wasn't going to get off lightly after that and having done so well flying around on one engine that far, the examiner decided that I might as well go the whole way and land back on just one, to finish the test but this time, keeping the offending engine idled back and not shut-down; a much better idea I thought.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I have to go and play havoc at another football match. Since Old Trafford and then Anfield last week, it's the latest 'Must have' expression for football fans as we approach the end of the season.


Bemused of Birchington said...

If you stare long enough at the still picture you can see the face of a well known trade union leader.

Simon Moores said...

Alasdair Bruce writes:

Strictly speaking a plesiosaur is not a dinosaur rather a marine reptile, although in the publics mind its a mute point! Remains of many types of sea going reptiles are found in our 80 million year old chalk with one of the commonest (relative term) being a form of Mosasaur called Tylosaurus.

Ironically, a recent intact 34m specimen was found in Canada and has been called Bruce! Most remains in the chalk are fragmentary as the carcass would have been rapidly broken up as it lay on that ancient seabed. This is also why we seldom find intact fish fossils in our chalk but rather isolated scales and bones. Of the fossil reptile remains I have seen from Thanet, perhaps the most exciting was an associated set of three vertebrae from a very large Tylosaurus found in a north Thanet bay.

When I say that each vertebrae was over 20cm across you begin to see just how large this reptile was. The exact location must remain secret as there is always the possibility of other bones being discovered related to this large individual.

Tony Ovenden said...

I am very cautious when it comes to giving out fossils locations because people will dig them out and sell them. A fine example has to be a group of ammonites I came across years ago it didn't take long before they were crucified. Probably sold.