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13 November 2014

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You are in: Devon > History > Local history > Did prehistoric worms turn up in the sands of Torbay?

Worm holes at Torbay beach

Dr Page found the burrows in February

Did prehistoric worms turn up in the sands of Torbay?

Scientists believe they may have unearthed evidence of giant prehistoric worms on a naturist beach in Devon.

A naturist beach in Devon may soon be attracting a different kind of visitor after evidence of giant worms who lived 160 million years ago was discovered there.

Dr Kevin Page

Dr Page is carrying out more surveys at the site

University of Plymouth geologist Dr Kevin Page was carrying out a survey at the site  in Torbay in February 2009 when he came across evidence of the burrows.

He was surveying the area for a project backed by Unesco, the environmental arm of the UN.

Dr Page believes the burrows were formed by the creatures - possibly giant worms up to 3ft (90cm) long and 6in (15cm) wide - at the end of the Paleozoic period, before dinosaurs walked the earth.

"These holes have never been seen here before or recorded here before, this is not life as we know it," said Dr Page.

Dr Page, chairman of the Devon Regionally Important Geological Sites Group, said: "Now what we've got to do is discover whether it was a worm or a strange millipede - we literally don't know what's made them.

"What we have is some of the last vestiges of a different world preserved in the rock.

Beach in Torbay

The beach is popular with naturists

"I often joke that I have a tardis and it's got four wheels because every time I set off I am driving off into a forgotten world and trying to understand a world that was so completely different."

The next stage is for Dr Page to publish his findings in an official journal when his evidence will be scrutinised by his peers in what he describes as an "intense and serious" process.

The creatures lived in the area when Torbay was part of one enormous desert continent and a "hugely hostile environment" and Dr Page is hoping further examination of the site might even yield some traces of the creatures preserved in mud - such as tiny bits of skin.

The creatures lived in the area when Torbay was part of one enormous desert continent and a "hugely hostile environment".

"We would have to be very lucky to find that but we do hope to solve a years' old problem as to what exactly made these amazing burrows in the middle of one of the hottest deserts the planet has ever known.

"It's extremely exciting."

last updated: 23/03/2009 at 12:45
created: 23/03/2009

You are in: Devon > History > Local history > Did prehistoric worms turn up in the sands of Torbay?

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