Thursday, 14 August 2014

Hannah Chowdhry Redbridge's Mary Anning!

A rare find - a fossil sourced via Brett Lafarge's quarry in Romford.

With plans afoot for the EIBP to create a glass display containing a replica of the mammoth skull found locally and some gravel from different periods charting the significant pre-history of our area, members of our team visited Brett Lafarge's Quarry at Hainault Road in Romford.  Whilst there the management team kindly allowed us obtain samples of oversized gravel for our display cabinet for the ‘Ilford Mammoth’, keen fossil hunter Hannah Chowdhry (10 years) later  discovered her second fossil while we sifted through our collection back at our offices.  Read about her first fossil discovery by (clicking here)

We sent an image of the fossil to experts at the Natural History Museum and Geological Association for identification and were notified it was an Inoceramus bivalve.  Diana Clements from the Geologists’ Association and London Geodiverstiy Partnership wrote in an email;

"Well found!

This is an Inoceramus' bivalve that has been enclosed in the flint.  The original shell has been dissolved during the process of the formation of the flint to leave an exterior mould of the original shell of the bivalve.  Most of the gravel you will have collected is flint that originated at certain horizons in the Chalk.

Unfortunately at > 65 million years it is not contemporary with the Mammoth but interesting none the less. 

Thanks for telling me about your find."

Excited by the find Wilson Chowdhry asked Diana how rare the fossil was, she replied;

"I was once given an Inoceramus by a French farmer when we used his Chambre d’hôte for the night but I have not found one myself.  Fossil echinoids (sea urchins) are more common but still comparatively rare when considering the totality of the flint.  Shells of Inoceramus are common right through the white Chalk itself and are useful in distinguishing the different layers as they evolve through time but they are not so commonly preserved in flint."  

Hannah Chowdhry the discoverer of the fossil said;

"I feel very proud of myself for finding this second fossil.  It was covered in muck but the strange lines stood out for me.  I immediately washed the fossil and suddenly noticed how bright and colourful the stone was.  It looked so beautiful."  

She added;

"I learnt about Mary Anning and her famous fossil collection whilst reading a horrible history book.  She used to sell fossils she found on a beach near where she lived.  One day I want to be a famous fossil hunter too!"

Jason Tomlins the quarries manager for Brett Aggregates East London said;

“Quarries are often rich with fossils and we are delighted Hannah was able to find her second only fossil in a stone from our site.  We are always pleased to contribute materials from our quarry to local community projects – whether it’s sand for the Flower Festival or lumps of flint for the mammoth display project.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that quarries can be dangerous places and should not be treated as playgrounds during the weekends and school holidays.”

Hannah was also inspired by the large Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus  known more commonly to us as a Plesiosaur (a large sea creature), which is currently displayed in the Natural History Museum (NHM).  She saw this whilst on a private tour to see the huge collection of pre-historic remains found in Ilford in the NHM archived collections.  The Plesiosaur is in a public gallery but after Hannah asked about Mary Anning Professor Adrian Lister kindly took children to see the wonderful find and described the amazing feats of Mary Anning often referred to as "the greatest fossil hunter of all time."

Hannah Chowdhry was also the inspiration behind our current EIBP project to bring the Ilford Mammoth home.  When she saw the Mammoth skull at the Natural History Museum during a trip with family in 2008. She said;  "This mammoth belongs in Ilford, look it even has our town name on it [talking about label referring to Ilford Mammoth]."  She asked her father to bring it home and a project began."

We would like to thank the Brett Lafarge Quarry at Romford to collect gravel for our Mammoth display project.

Freshly dug gravel form which the fossil was found.

Fresh mix has larger and smaller stones. larger stones are later broken down into smaller sizes for use as construction material.

A slimy clay covers freshly dug gravel.

The stone containing the fossil looked very attractive after washing.

The fossil found will be displayed in our potential mammoth display cabinet if funding is gained.

A rare find and one that young Hannah is extremely proud of.

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