Life in the Jurassic Seas
In this part of the gallery we invite you to explore the ancient marine world, and discover the rich variety of life that lived in the seas over 145 million years ago ...
The Jurassic oceans were populated by squid-like belemnites, fish and ammonites, hunted by huge marine crocodiles, dolphin-like ichthyosaurs and long-necked plesiosaurs, with their barrel-shaped bodies and four diamond-shaped flippers.
On the sea floor lived large communities of urchins, star fish and shell-fish, much like in a modern tropical sea.
This was a time of richness and plenty, but with big predators patrolling the seas, great violence as well.
A Victorian view of life in the Jurassic
Duria Antiquior, c. 1850
Robert Farren (1832 - 1910)
Oil on canvas, 2440 x 1660 mm
(961 x 654 inches)
150 years ago, fossil collecting was an activity for the wealthy and educated. The rocks of the Dorset coast were a popular hunting ground for fossils of the Jurassic. Collectors began to imagine what life in the ancient seas may have been like.
Duria Antiquior ("Ancient Dorsetshire")is an early science-based illustration of prehistoric life, and was sketched by Henry de la Beche for the celebrated Lyme Regis fossil-collector Mary Anning, in 1831.
The version that you can see in the gallery, above the Jurassic Seas exhibit, was copied from the original by Robert Farren for Sedgwick, in around 1850, who may have used it to illustrate his lectures.