The surface of the rock looks like ripples on sand -
you're looking at the surface of a three million year old seabed. These
ripples were created by the wind and waves three million years ago! Layers
of sand and mud built up on top, each with its own pattern of ripples.
Today, as each layer erodes, the ripples underneath are exposed again.
out more about the Ripple Bed. Listen to Graham Worton »
Why are the Ripple Beds fenced off? The picture on the
right shows that a huge chunk of the rock has slipped down into the trench,
leaving a yellow-y patch of rock beneath it. At the moment, the rock face
The rock didn't just slip down on its own. A fossil dealer
cut out a beautiful fossil of a complete 'sea-lily' - a creature that
flopped onto the bed when it died and was preserved as a perfectly. The
dealer left a gap at the bottom of the flat rock face, so the rock above
eventually slid down.
stole the sealily? Listen to Graham Worton »
is a sealily? Listen to Graham Worton »
|Fossil sea-lily head spread out
The fence around the Ripple Beds will be removed when
the top layers of the rock have weathered away and it's safe again - this
could take years. The fossil dealer has prevented people from seeing the
sealily fossil in the exact spot where it died and we won't be able to
look closely at the surface for years.
To the right of the platform, walk down into the 'Fossil
Trench' to hunt for fossils! s
Each time it rains, more fossils are naturally eroded
from the rock ('weathering'). Climb down and have a look for yourself.
You are permitted to take away up to three small fossils which fit into
the palm of your hand. (Remember: you must not take away larger pieces
of rock or use tools to remove fossils.)
The fossils here are acknowleged as the best in world
in this type of rock. You might find something truly unusual! Two years
ago, a boy found a fossil here that is so rare, it's been sent all over
the world and, so far, no-one has been able to identify it.
out about Luke's rare fossil. Listen to Graham Worton »
You'll know you're looking at a fossil if you can see
patterns in the rock. For a full guide to spotting fossils, listen to
the clip below. Keep anything interesting that you find - you can take
it Dudley Museum to identify it.
to spot a fossil. Listen to Graham Worton »
You'll definitely be able to find fossil coral (see photos
on previous page). It looks like twigs and has a dotty texture. Coral
grows in rings, like trees, with more growth in the summer months. A full
year's cycle of ancient coral rings is 400 days. Hang on, that should
be 365, shouldn't it? There must have been more days to one year! Was
the Earth spinning faster? Or did it have a slower orbit around the Sun?
Scientists are still looking for the answer.
does coral tell us about the Earth's orbit and rotation? Listen to Graham
|420 million year old seasbed!
Scientists can find out all kinds of information about
what Dudley was like millions of years ago from the rock. You can calculate
the wind direction by looking at the ripple patterns and magnetic properties
of the rock can be used to find out where Dudley was located on the surface
of the Earth... The Midlands used to be 30° south of the Equator!
do we know Dudley used to be south of the Equator? Listen to Graham Worton
Dudley used to have three fossil shops! People used to
come from all over the world to find and/or buy Dudley fossils. Miners
often found superb fossils when they were quarrying the rock. They could
earn a lot of money by selling fossils they found - a much-needed boost
to their low mining salary.
out about the fossil trade in Dudley. Listen to Graham Worton »
|Steps up behind the Reef Mound
Detour - if you continue walking past the ripple bed
platform along the footpath, you'll be able to see old lime kilns.
Go back to Reef Mound, and up the steep steps behind
it. Walk along to the right past the playing fields.
map of this stage
(Optional route without steps:
Go back to Wren's Hill Road. On the other side of The Caves pub, there
is another footpath. Make your way along this to the viewpoint.)
route for this stage without steps