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‘Lockdown fossil hunting led me to rare finds in Harwich’ (UK)

By June 25, 2020Conservation
Rebecca Jones, The Harwich and Manningtree Standard | June 23, 2020

Read the original story here.

Philipp Kloska, a palaeontology student at Portsmouth University, has been regularly searching for fossils on a stretch of beach by the Maritime Museum during the coronavirus outbreak.

The 19-year-old, who has always been a keen fossil collector, has recently discovered a mammoth tooth, a woolly rhino tooth and a megaloceros tooth still in its jaw.

A megaloceros is an extinct giant deer which roamed during the most recent ice age.

The giant deer went extinct about 8,000 years ago, and the woolly rhino became extinct 10,000 years ago.

Philipp, who is originally from Germany, but has lived in Harwich with his family most of his life, said the fossils are quite a rare find. “I found them on the old Harwich beach area right by the playground,” he added.

“I’m a palaeontology student going into my second year at university; but even before then I’ve been an avid fossil collector and fossil hunter.

“I’ve always been interested in the past and with science and having such an interesting area to collect is always great.”

Philipp said the finds have been very unusual – with it being more common to find shark teeth and whale bones mostly from the London clay formation at the beach.

He added: “But recently with this lockdown it’s let me and my family have more time to collect more from the beach.

“It’s fun to see what you can find.

“So far what we have found is a woolly rhino tooth; mammoth tooth and mammoth bone; bison tooth; deer tooth; megaloceros jaw and tooth; assorted crocodile and turtle bones and of course lots of shark teeth including megalodon teeth.”

Phillip has been fossil hunting for about two days a weeks during lockdown depending on tide times and the weather.

He added: “With the fossils I find, first I get opinions on what they are through books and other palaeontologists where I label them, give them a number and put that on a spreadsheet and I write it in a book so I keep multiple records.

“I then either display them or pack them up in storage.”

According to the UK Fossil Network fossils have been noted in Harwich for about 300 years. It said the most common finds are sharks’ teeth, whale bones and shell fragments.

Recent finds include many types of fish, reptiles, crocodiles and bird bones.