Whitby’s Teleosaurus Chapman

Uncovered in 1824, this impressive specimen was found in the Alum Shale of Saltwick at a time when quarrymen were extracting alum from the alum shale, which was one of the first chemical industries. During the earlier 19th century geology had become very popular in Britain, after fossils were being discovered in Britain (it’s also around this time that Reverend William, of Oxford University, named the first dinosaur).


The most intact fossil of Teleosaurus Chapman

Since then, Saltwick has been very famous for its fossils, and the area consists of three main layers that are perfect to bear fossils; Whitby mudstone, saltwick, and Dogger formations.

The crocodile, scientifically knows as Teleosaurus Chapmani (or Steneosaurus Bollensis) was bought for a whopping £7 (which was around 140 shillings) with a means to preserve and keep the fossil in Whitby. Brown Marshall, a carpenter from Whitby, discovered the fossil after noticing its nose


Reconstruction of the Teleosaurus Chapman

poking out from the cliffs. With it being 1824, and health and safety not being as big as it is now, Marshall began excavating the fossil by hanging from ropes on the cliff. First the skull was excavated, then part of the body and three years later a portion of the tail was taken.

This brilliant discovery is the most intact fossil of this marine reptile in the world, with only sections of both forelimbs and a majority of the rostrum missing. It is an extinct genus of teleosaund crocodyliform from the early Jurrassic to middle Jurrassic. The average size of this beast would be 2.5-3.5 meters long.

You can go see the famous fossil in Whitby Museum.


One thought on “Whitby’s Teleosaurus Chapman

  1. Pingback: The mysterious sinking of the Von Tromp – Whitby Uncovered

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