Of the many thousands of geological specimens in the collections of Norfolk Museums, many are internationally important.
These mostly reflect the geology of the county and therefore are largely fossils from the Chalk, Crag and Ice Age deposits. Highlights of the geology collection include bones, antlers and tusks from large vertebrates of the Cromer Forest-bed Formation which outcrops around the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk, and the largest and most complete fossil elephant ever found in Britain, the West Runton Mammoth.
An introduction to the rocks and fossils of Norfolk
The rocks beneath our feet in Norfolk tell the story of the world millions of years deep into the past. Each section contains clues to how the world looked at any given time long ago.
Using Norfolk Museums Service’s ‘internationally important’ geology collections as examples, Senior Curator of Natural History and Geology, Dr David Waterhouse takes us on a tour 90 million years into the past and back to the present day. It’s the story of an ever-changing landscape: warm seas to frozen tundra, deserts to temperate river estuaries.
Museum at home
Bringing the museum to you! While working from home and social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic, Senior Curator of Natural History and Geology at Norfolk Museums Service, Dr David Waterhouse tells us about the West Runton Mammoth in just 60 seconds.
West Runton Mammoth
The West Runton Mammoth was a steppe mammoth (an ancestor of the woolly mammoth), the largest elephant species that ever lived. It is the most complete specimen of this species to have been discovered in the UK. The mammoth dates from the Cromerian Stage of the Pleistocene Period (c.700,000 years ago).
Upper canine tooth from a lion
'Panthera leo' - If you were in Norfolk 500,000 to a million years ago, you might have come across prides of lions, packs of wolves and clans of hyaenas. With teeth adapted to tearing flesh, lions were the top carnivores in ancient Britain.
Fossilised hyaena faeces
Spotted hyaena ('Crocuta crocuta') were certainly present in Norfolk some 700,000 years ago. Hyaenas can digest bone, making their droppings incredibly solid.
Fossilised pine cone
Semi-fossilised pinecones have been found all along the Norfolk coastline known as the ‘Deep History Coast’. They show us that a coniferous forest grew here nearly a million years ago.