The Strawberry Bank Lagerstätte

The Strawberry Bank Lagerstätte preserves diverse species from an early Jurassic marine ecosystem in extraordinary three dimensional detail. 183 million years old, these animals lived and died at the peak of what geologists call the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic crisis (T-OAC), a worldwide period of decreased oxygen saturation in the oceans which led to an increased rate of extinction and marked changes in the fauna of the oceans.

A juvenile Pelagosaurus crocodile, a Pachycormus fish, and an Ichthyosaur skull in three dimensions

On this page you will find an overview of the Strawberry Bank Lagerstätte, its history, and the work Bath Royal LSI has been engaged in with these astounding fossils during the 21st century.

You will also find links to further resources about Strawberry Bank and Charles Moore.

In the mid-1840s Somerset Geologist Charles Moore discovered remarkable fossil bearing strata near to his home town of Ilminster. Moore built up a substantial collection of specimens from what he called his ‘saurian, fish, and insect bed’. Since 1854 Moore’s unique collection has been preserved at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. Working with in partnership with palaeontologists from University of Bristol, Bath Royal LSI have undertaken a programme of intensive study into the site we now call the Strawberry Bank Lagerstätte.

The term lagerstätte, German in origin and literally meaning ‘storage place’, is used by palaeontologists to describe an assemblage of fossils with exceptional preservation. In the case of Strawberry Bank, the fossils were preserved rapidly within limestone concretions, before significant compaction of the sediment in which they became buried, resulting in the preservation of fine three dimensional structures and in some cases soft tissues which are usually not fossilised. Unlike many important fossil sites of Toarcian age, which preserve similar creatures but crushed flat by the weight of accruing sediments, many of the fossils at Strawberry Bank allow us to study the orientation and structure of elements within the skeleton of certain marine vertebrates, especially ichthyosaurs of two species, Pelagosaurus crocodiles, and Pachycormus fishes. Additionally, fossils from the site include a variety of invertebrates including squid and octopus like cephalopods, lobster like arthropods, and terrestrial insects of nine different orders.

Our own diminutive Sea Dragons

Curator's Notes, JESBI
reconstruction by palaeo-artist John Sibbick of two juvenile ichthyosaurs from the Strawberry Bank Lagerstätte  This week the news has been full of excitement about the stupendous discovery of a giant ichthyosaur in Leicestershire, commonly being referred to as the Rutland Sea Dragon. This huge Temnodontosaurus, over 10 meters in length,…

Fossil Squid Ink


Dr Jakob Vinther of the University of Bristol has visited to sample 183 million year old squid ink from our fossil collection.