This remarkable fossil was collected during the nineteenth century from a former stone quarry at Wilmcote, near Stratford upon Avon. Many interesting and unusual fossils used to be found in the Wilmcote quarries, partly due to the hand-working methods. Today, many quarries in Warwickshire are highly mechanised and fossils are often lost.
Today, one of the Wilmcote quarries is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Wilmcote limestones represent 200 million year-old mud, deposited on a shallow seafloor that covered Warwickshire at the dawn of the Jurassic Period.
This is the skeleton of a small ichthyosaur. It is not really a ‘baby’, but was undoubtedly not fully grown. We don’t know how it died, but its body must have been very rapidly entombed within the mud. Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic era and became extinct roughly 70 million years ago.