Mendips header
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  Cheddar Gorge
 Burrington Combe
 Shipham & Rowberrow
 Crook Peak & Axbridge
 Banwell to Churchill
 Harptree & Smitham Hill
 Draycott & Westbury-sub
 Wookey Hole & Ebbor
 Great Elm & Vallis Vale
 Mells & the Wadbury Valley
 The Vobster area
 The Whatley area
 Torr Works & Asham Wood
 Beacon Hill
 Stoke St Michael & Oakhill
 Holwell & Nunney
 Shepton Mallet & Maesbury
 Gurney Slade & Emborough
 The Nettlebridge valley
 Rocks of Mendips
 Geological timescale
 Ancient environments
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  Minerals and mines
 Industrial archaeology
  Stone as a resource
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 Quarrying & the environment
 History of quarrying
 Caves and karst
 How caves form
 Dry valleys and gorges
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 Mendip caves
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  Flora and fauna
 Typical Mendip habitats
 Special Mendip habitats
 Horseshoe bats
 Appendix of names
 Biodiversity of western
 Biodiversity of eastern
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  East Mendip quarries
 Biodiversity of eastern
  West Mendip quarries
 Biodiversity of western
 Site map
The fossils of Mendip
Silurian | Upper Devonian | Lower Carboniferous | Triassic | Lower to Middle Jurassic

Lower to Middle Jurassic fossils (200 to 161 million years ago)

Lias Group
The Lias Group of the Mendips formed in relatively shallow water conditions adjacent to emergent parts of the Mendip massif. Consequently the fossil faunas are not always so diverse as in the better-known Lias succession of Dorset and north Somerset. Bivalves such as Gryphaea, Pseudolimea, Plagiostoma, Pinna, Placunopsis, Oxytoma and Liostrea are relatively common, and large gastropods such as Pleurotomaria, also occur. The brachiopods Lobothyris and Spiriferina have been collected from the Lias Group at Evercreech, with belemnites and crinoids. Ammonites are rather rare, although large specimens of Arietites bucklandi have been found near Shepton Mallet and Caloceras is relatively common in the succession at Milton, near Wells.

Gryphea   The rare remains of the primitive mammal-like reptile Oligokyphus have been found infilling fissures in the Carboniferous Limestone near Shepton Mallet. The remains appear to occur in Lower Jurassic sediments, and are thought originally to have accumulated around springs on the Mendip islands, before being swept into the sea by flooded rivers and entering the open fissures on the sea bed.

Caloceras sp.
Downside Stone (Lias Group)
The richly fossiliferous Downside Stone contains the broken-up remains of bivalves (including coarse-ribbed forms), analagous to modern-day shell banks, and suggests that this was a turbulent, shallow water, near-shore setting. Common bivalves include Cercomya, Ctenostreon, Atreta, Liostrea, Plagiostoma, Pseudopecten and Terquemia. Fossils that are more typical of open-water environments are rare, but a few ammonites, such as Alsatites, Waehneroceras, Schlotheimia, Caloceras and Coroniceras have been found.

Ctenostreon Cercomya sp.
Inferior Oolite Formation
In the Mendips, only the younger, upper part of the Inferior Oolite is preserved, overlying a remarkably planar, oyster-encrusted erosion surface that cuts across the Carboniferous Limestone and has been bored in to by rock-dwelling bivalves such as Lithophaga. The surface, cut by marine erosion at a time of rising sea level, represents a rocky Middle Jurassic sea floor. At Vallis Vale, the limestones above the erosion surface contain a variety of bivalves (e.g. Pseudolimea, Pholadomya, Ctenostreon), brachiopods (e.g. Acanthothyris, Stiphrothyris) and echinoids (e.g. Clypeus, Pseudodiadema, Arcosalenia, Holectypus).
Cadomities   At Doulting, the fauna of the Inferior Oolite includes relatively common ammonites, such as Cadomites, Leptosphinctes and Orthogarantiana near the base, and Parkinsonia, Morphoceras, Oxycerites and Zigzagiceras near the top. A limestone succession at the top of the Inferior Oolite is named the Anabacia Limestone after the abundance of the small button coral Chomatoseris ('Anabacia') porpites.

Great Oolite Group, Fuller's Earth Formation
The youngest Jurassic rocks of the Mendips, represented by the Fuller's Earth Formation, comprise an ammonite-rich limestone succession overlain by oyster-rich mudstones. The limestone is named the Fullonicus Limestone after the abundance of the ammonite Procerites fullonicus. The limestone also contains brachiopods (e.g. Acanthothyris), bivalves (e.g. Modiolus and rare Catinula) and gastropods. The mudstones above the Fullonicus Limestone are named the Knorri Beds, after their abundance of the oyster Catinula knorri.

Procerites sp. Catinula sp.
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