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The Square and Compass

9 November 2017

I expect many thousands of people have enjoyed a pastie and a pint at the Square and Compass public house in Worth Matravers on the Isle of Purbeck, over the years. Lots of walkers for example, as there is a nice walk on narrow paths with hedges thick with primroses and wild garlic in the spring, leading eventually to the cliffs and a fine view of the Jurassic Coast. The pub is also popular with geologists and it seems a new species recently found has been named after the landlord of the Square and Compass – a nice touch. See https://phys.org/print429258235.html … the story is part of the discovery of a couple of teeth from an early rodent (mammal) that coexisted with the dinosaurs, 145 million years ago. It isn't known as the Jurassic coast for nothing. It is also where Purbeck limestone, Portland limestone, and Kimmeridge clays outcrop on the edge of the English Channel, after running mostly underground across much of southern England. Outcrops exist elsewhere of course. In the Vale of Aylesbury they exist on small hills bulging up from the Oxford clay (even older geology) and have been exploited for centuries as building stone is rare in clay country. The Jurassic coast is famous for its fossils. Crumbling cliffs often release the most surprising life forms. In this instance, the teeth of two kinds of small rodents thought to be ancestral to a whole lot of mammals (after the demise of the dinosaurs). They are thought to have been nocturnal and fairly secretive, feeding on insect and seeds etc. Dr Steve Sweetman has made a career out of specialising in the smaller species that lived amongst the dinosaurs. The new finds come from cliffs between Swanage and Kimmeridge, and a short walk from Worth Matravers.

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