9-Year-Old Discovers 200-Million-Year-Old Ammonite Fossil in Beach Cliff

Nine-Year-Old Welsh Boy Finds 200-Million-Year-Old Ammonite Fossil in Beach Cliff

Eli and his dad, Glenn Morris, discovered this 200-million-year-old ammonite fossil high up in a beachside cliff. (Photo: Glenn Morris)

Imagine strolling down a beautiful beach, enjoying the crisp sea breeze, when all of a sudden you look up and see something strange embedded in a towering rock cliff lining the shore. On closer inspection, it's a large spiral, a shell. In fact, it's the fossil of a 200-year-old ammonite, a mollusk from the Jurassic period. This is exactly how a day at Llantwit Major beach turned into an extraordinary discovery for 9-year-old Eli and his dad Glenn Morris. The Welsh boy's find is rare in that area and exciting for researchers.

Eli lives with his family in Birchgrove, Swansea, in Wales. He is not new to fossil hunting, even at such a young age. He usually goes fossil hunting with his dad. “We're always on the coast somewhere, usually down Gower way, but this was our first time here, so it was beginner's luck really,” Morris told the BBC. “I was a bit of a nerd growing up and liked dinosaurs and rocks and the same things he's into to be honest and I think I've passed it onto him.” Eli has gathered some fossil samples for his own collection through these expeditions. He told the BBC, “They're just interesting and I like their shape and the texture. It's just cool.”

This day, the family had traveled slightly further afield to the charming rocky, cliffside beach. Eli said, “I was just sitting here and looked up and thought ‘Oh my God, that's big!'” He had spotted a spiral-shaped shell peaking from the cliff, a blue lias formation. Dr. Nick Felstead of Swansea University commented on the fossil: “The fossil Eli found is an ammonite, which was a type of mollusk closely related to octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, which is a rare find at Llantwit Major. We can see that the inner chambers that would have been used for buoyancy of the ammonite have been infilled with quartz during fossilization, which is even rarer, and makes this one especially pretty.” The fossil is an impressive 200 million years old, and is contemporaneous with the dinosaurs.

Young Eli was clearly excited by the find, but the glories of being a paleontologist pale in front of his true life goal—being a footballer (soccer player). If he keeps searching the beaches, however, he may find even more fossils. Average folks in the UK have been known to stumble across important fossils on beaches and dairy farms. Americans can find them too, with enough luck. No one is too young, as shown by Eli, as well as  another 9-year-old in Maryland who discovered a megaladon tooth. These young scientists continue to discover pieces of Earth's history.

9-year-old Eli was walking along a Welsh beach with his dad when he spotted a 200-million-year-old ammonite fossil peaking out from a cliff.

Nine-Year-Old Welsh Boy Finds 200-Million-Year-Old Ammonite Fossil in Beach Cliff

Eli proudly showing a fossil in his collection. (Photo: Glenn Morris)

Nine-Year-Old Welsh Boy Finds 200-Million-Year-Old Ammonite Fossil in Beach Cliff

The ammonite fossil, a large specimen. (Photo: Glenn Morris)

The ancient mollusk is showing from an eroded section of rock on Llantwit Major's beach.

Ancient ammonite, approximately dated at 200 million years old

A closer view of the ancient ammonite. (Photo: Glenn Morris)

The young fossil hunter has his own collection of cool fossils, but he wants to be a footballer.

Nine-Year-Old Welsh Boy Finds 200-Million-Year-Old Ammonite Fossil in Beach Cliff

Llantwit Major beach where the pair found the fossil. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Watch Eli recount his discovery to BBC:

h/t: [BBC]

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Prehistoric 33-Foot-Long “Sea Dragon” Fossil Found in UK Reservoir

Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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