I found these two shells (1&2) in mid-Beds UK. One was in soil excavated by a mole and another on the surface of ploughed soil (about a mile away). Near to the in-field specimen there were the bottom set of shells which I took to be Gryphaeidae. 1 & 2 look like oysters to me, but they also look quite fresh (as if found on a sea shore). Could they be fossil Ostreidae? Any indication of genus would be greatly appreciated.
I could not go much further than Ostreidae myself.
Gryphaea, or similar.
A reliable ID often needs:
- multiple specimens to look at (since an individual may not show key features)
- scientific papers on local geology (to cut down a long list of candidate species, through determining the age-range of the rocks and/or work done on specific fossils)
- a local expert
The Bedford Museum (now The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum) has a geological collection. That and the curator might help - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Higgins_Art_Gallery_%26_Museum
The curator might, depending on his particular background, be able to tell you if the top two are modern or fossil. Bear in mind there is a legitimate intermediate state 'subfossil' as well - where animal remains are only partly indurated/mineralized/lithified.
We may get other comments here, though, so give folks a while to notice your post.
Thanks Mike, helpful advice! I will visit the Higgins Museum to see what they have in the way of fossils and to try to make contact with a local expert. I should add that this is the first time that I have used this forum, and I have been very pleased to see such useful replies. Thanks again!
Your bottom specimen looks like a Gryphaea arcuata? but I do-not know the geology of your area.
You say your top two images are of quite fresh shells, just wondering are there any Roman settlements in the same area ? because they liked oysters!
Clutching at straws but could be.
One oyster was in a mole-hill on the Greensand Ridge, the second was in a clay-soiled field at the foot of the Ridge. I have this info on the geology:
The GR is formed from sediment deposited in a tropical marine location over a 15 million year period starting in the Cretaceous some 115 m years ago. The Weald Dome was uplifted and tilted during tectonic plate movements resulting in the Alps and has since eroded leaving exposed strata of sandstone, clay and chalk. The sandstone deposits overlie Oxford Clays and were themselves covered with Gault Clay and chalk. The strata have been further uncovered by glacial action during the last Ice Age (around 11 000 years ago). There are also deposits of Fullers' earth formed from from volcanic ash.
So it's pretty complex and there has been plenty of opportunity for marine molluscs to be deposited and retained.
Your introduction of the Roman possibility is intriguing. There was a lot of Roman activity in the area, and only last summer we had the exciting find of a major Roman villa (desciribed as a communications centre) in Bedford itself. Whilst visiting the site we talked with geologists about the Roman penchant for oysters and I think that your suggestion is a definite possibility. I will pursue the idea further if I can locate the right knowledgeable person at the museum.
Many thanks for your help. R.