We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Q&A with Richard Edmonds, Jurassic Coast Rock Star

Meet the man in charge of the rocks at England's only natural World Heritage Site.

By Gemma Tarlach
Oct 2, 2014 5:00 AMNov 14, 2019 8:20 PM
Geologist Edmonds and amateur fossil hunter Kevan Sheehan with The Dorset Pliosaur skull Sheehan found. | Samantha Cook


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Geologist Richard Edmonds grew up fossil hunting in the seaside town of Lyme Regis, right on the Jurassic Coast. Now, as earth science manager for the World Heritage site, Edmonds works to conserve the coast and encourage science tourism in the area. Bonus: He still gets to bring home the occasional fossil.

Richard Edmonds | Sam Rose/Jurassic Coast Team

Discover: What does an earth science manager do, exactly?

Edmonds: I’m in charge of the rocks. I’ve got to check that they’re OK. Our coastline is maintained by natural forces. If it’s falling down and eroding, we’re happy. But lots of historic villages along the coast are at risk of tumbling into the sea. My job is to find the balance, working with engineers trying to protect the buildings.

The World Heritage site’s geologic treasures span the entire Mesozoic era, from the Triassic through the Jurassic, up to and including the Cretaceous. Was it named “Jurassic Coast” just to capitalize on a certain Michael Crichton novel/Steven Spielberg movie?

E: (Laughs) Yes, though you could think of the Jurassic as the jam in the sandwich. What’s your favorite of the fossils you’ve found?

E: A crocodile skull, 75 centimeters long, from Swanage — an exquisite specimen of a new species.

Favorite thing to do on the coast?

E: Fossil collecting around Charmouth and Lyme Regis, ideally after a lovely, big storm.

[This story originally appeared in print as "Rock Star."]

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.