Fossils are the remains or traces of ancient life. Fossils can be mineralised bones, teeth, shells, wood, material from an animal such as fur or eggs, footprints, leaf impressions or burrows.
At Wren’s Nest, when the creatures that lived in the Silurian seabed died, their remains sank to the bottom of the sea floor, eventually forming limestone. 428 million years later, you will be the first person to ever discover that particular animal.
Over 700 types of fossil have been found at Wren's Nest, 186 of which were first discovered and described here and 86 are found nowhere else on Earth.
There were many different types of corals in the reef including Favosites and Halysites.
Crinoids or sea lilies grew in sheltered areas behind the main reef in patches of sand or soft sediment. Crinoids still live in the seas today but are rarer than they were in Silurian times.
Trilobites are probably the most famous fossil found on Wren’s Nest. Calymene blumenbachii was so commonly found by the quarrymen in the 19th century that it became known as the ‘Dudley Locust’” or the ‘Dudley Bug’ and was incorporated into the town’s coat-of-arms as a symbol of the limestone mining industry.
Another common trilobite is Dalmanites. Trilobites were arthropods, related to modern crabs and lobsters and probably grazed on plants for food.
Some of the easiest fossils to find on Wren’s Nest are brachiopods, such as Atrypa, Strophonella and Leptaena. You can also find bivalves, like Goniophora and Pteronitella.
Other animals that lived on the reef included gastropods (sea snails) and Orthoceras, relatives of modern day squids and cuttlefish.
Want to know more?
Visit Geology matters
Looking for fossils can be often be difficult and time consuming. Luckily at Wren’s Nest, there are so many that you will easily find something to take home with you.
Here are some tips of how to look for fossils
• Take your time and look at the loose material on the ground. Remember do not use hammers or other tools on the rock faces
• Look for unusual shapes and textures
• You are likely to only find part of a fossil, so make sure that you download the the sheet at the bottom of the page to familiarise yourself with what they might look like
• Only take a few fossils at any one time – you can always come back!
• Use the footpaths and do not enter the safety fences
• Remember to record that your fossils came from Wren’s Nest, Dudley
To learn how to look after your fossils, click the links below which will take you to the Geology Matters where Graham Worton, Borough Geologist explains in a video how to look after and store your fossils.
Looking after your fossils
Storing your Fossils