Dinosaur fossils excite students and specialists in Ardingly

Brian Smith, Jane Blyth and Ardingly students digging for dinosaurs
Brian Smith, Jane Blyth and Ardingly students digging for dinosaurs

There was a roar of excitement from pupils after the discovery of dinosaur bones estimated to be around 140 million years old in Ardingly.

Little did students of Ardingly College know that they were learning above millions of years worth of history from the early Cretaceous period.

Ardingly students digging for dinosaur bones

Ardingly students digging for dinosaur bones

Last Autumn pupils discovered the prehistoric remains as part of a ‘geo-dig’ in the rubble left when a new school hall was built.

Dr Susannah Maidment from Imperial College London is working closely with the school to identify the fossils found.

She said: “We have found shells, fish, teeth, scales and one large bone which is almost certainly a dinosaur.

“We believe it may be a rib or a back bone of a dinosaur and it is very unlikely it would be anything else.

“We know that Ardingly College sits on a rocky treasure trove of ancient fossils.

“The problem is we do not usually get access to them because this area of England is so heavily urbanized.”

Mid Sussex has a long history when it comes to discovering prehistoric remains.

Cuckfield was one of the first sites in the world to find dinosaur bones when Gideon Mantell discovered the famous Iguanodon.

Some at the school are hoping that they could discover a new species, but Dr Maidment has told us that more remains will need to be discovered before this could be established.

Brian Craik-Smith, a teacher at the school as well as a trained geologist was the first person to identify the bones.

He said: “I was pretty amazed we were not expecting to find many remains.

“I knew there were snails but I was not expecting to find dinosaur bones.

“We found an Iguanodon tooth earlier this week and we are hoping to find more.”

It is hoped the private school will now host a ‘Dig for Dinosaurs’ event as part of a Citizen Science Project later this year.

Visitors would be asked to bring along their own finds, so that experts could help identify them, as well as assisting the pupils at the school to discover more fossils.

The aim is to collect and catalogue as many items as possible as a resource for learning here in Mid Sussex.