Rare Wirral dinosaur fossil on show

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Dinosaur fossil found in West Kirby. Photo by Amelia Eccleson-Davies © JMU Journalism

Dinosaur fossil found in West Kirby. Photo by Amelia Eccleson-Davies © JMU Journalim

The first dinosaur fossil ever found in the North West went on display in Merseyside’s oldest building at the ‘Dinosaurs Roaming Wirral’ exhibition this weekend.

The ancient footprint, called a ‘trace fossil’, was found in West Kirby and featured in the display at Birkenhead Priory alongside a life-size replica of a T-Rex skeleton. Experts say the closest other discovery of a dinosaur fossil was over 100 miles away, in Loughborough.

The footprint is likely to have come from a two-legged dinosaur such as a basal [primitive] theropod.

The print was found in local sandstone, which dates back to the Late Triassic period, approximately 225 million years ago.

The discovery was made by industrial chemist and former geologist, Graham Eccleson when he was renovating a garden wall.

YouTube: JMU Journalism

He told JMU Journalism: “What was truly remarkable about my find was that the footprint was in a piece of the lower red sandstone from a West Kirby quarry some years ago.

“Hopefully academics from either University of Liverpool or Manchester will be able to verify my find and recognise that this could truly be the oldest trace fossil find in the UK.”

Dinosaurs Roaming Wirral is the second such event on the peninsula that Gavin Rymill, the sculptor of the model T-Rex, has organised after the success of his previous display in West Kirby Museum, earlier this summer.

The replica of the pre-historic creature was the main focus after it took more than six months to make entirely from polystyrene and latex paint.

Life-size replica of T-Rex. Photo by Amelia Eccleson-Davies © JMU Journalism

Life-size replica of T-Rex. Photo by Amelia Eccleson-Davies © JMU Journalism

Gavin, who specialises in graphic design and 3D modelling, has most recently been sculpting aliens for a Doctor Who figurine collection. He decided to take on the dinosaur project with the help of a vertebrate palaeontologist friend.

Mr Rymill said: “The aim was to give me a new project for 2016. I was also finding the web design side of my job increasingly unrewarding so I just wanted something new to focus on. I spoke to a couple of sculptors and it was too expensive really to employ someone so I decided to attempt it myself.”

The exhibition combined art and science to bring dinosaurs to life while remaining factual and accurate. Gavin believes that discoveries of dinosaur fossils in Britain needs to be given more attention.

He told JMU Journalism: “Thanks to Graham we now have the first and only evidence of dinosaurs here in the North West. Not only that but it could actually be the oldest dinosaur fossil in the UK. It’s truly astonishing and hugely important.”

About Amelia Eccleson-Davies, JMU Journalism