Liverpool John Lennon Airport Launches Fossil Finding Tour

For passengers waiting at Liverpool John Lennon Airport a new attraction has just been launched to help them pass the time whilst waiting for their flight or for relatives to arrive.  The airport has the usual shops, cafes and bars to keep passengers and visitors entertained but launched this week, the airport now provides the chance for people to go on their own fossil hunt around the terminal.

Finding Fossils

Like many public buildings, Liverpool John Lennon Airport’s terminal buildings have been constructed from quarried sedimentary rocks, many of which contain fossils and if these fossils end up on an exposed face of a building they can be seen by passers by.  Much of the atrium and concourse is made from limestone, a sedimentary rock formed by calcium carbonate, which originally came from the shells and carapaces of marine organisms.  Fossils of marine organisms can be preserved and in recognition of the fossils in the walls and floors of the airport buildings, the airport has introduced the “JLA Fossil Mystery Tour” in conjunction with the Liverpool Geological Society.

Finding Fossils – Can You Spot the Fossils?

Portland Stone

Looking for fossils at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Fossils in the Limestone

The limestone is estimated to be approximately 250 million years old (Upper Permian/Lower Triassic) and was formed at the bottom of a shallow, tropical sea.  A guidebook can be purchased and visitors can then wander back through time to explore the world at a time before the Dinosaurs.  Indeed, sediments from this period in Earth’s history are particularly poignant as at the end of the Permian there was a huge extinction event and 95% of all life on the planet died out.

Everything Dinosaur has published other articles associated with the Permian extinction event: Can snails and oysters provide a clue to mass extinction?

Robin Tudor, General Manager – Corporate and Community Affairs at JLA, said: “We’re delighted to be launching JLA’s Fossil Mystery Tour guide. I’ve heard people say there’s a load of old fossils at JLA – I used to think they were talking about Airport Management but now I realise they were just well-informed!

“It’s fascinating to learn about the fossils which live in the limestone and to be able to now tell our passengers all about them.

Marks and Patterns in the Floor

“Some passengers aren’t aware that the marks and patterns around the terminal are in fact fossils. Before now we’ve received complaints about the marks and coffee stains on the terminal floor that passengers have mistaken these excellent fossil examples for!”

We can understand what Robin says when it comes to people thinking that the floor may be stained, when actually the “blemish” on the floor represents a marine animal from prehistoric times.  One of our team members was purchasing a new kitchen from a bathroom and kitchen supply store and they overheard a rather well to do lady complaining that the Italian marble tiles she had purchased had strange marks on them, that in her view spoilt the finish.

Fossils Preserved in Tiles

The young shop assistant was becoming quite flustered as the woman continued with her complaint, however, when our team member pointed out to her that the metamorphic marble was originally sedimentary limestone and that these marks were actually rare and ancient fossils which would make her floor a talking point and indeed a unique piece of architecture, she quickly changed her tune and insisted on having more tiles with fossils.

The launch of John Lennon Airport Fossil Mystery Tour guide coincides with the bicentenary celebrations of the Geological Society of London. This society, the oldest Geological society in the world was set up on November 13th 1807 and the launch of the John Lennon Airport Fossil Tour is just one of the special events planned to mark this event.

A Model of an Ammonite and an Ammonite Fossil

We spotted a Bullyland ammonite model being used to help illustrate a display of ammonite fossils. Ammonite replicas are often purchased by fossil hunters.

A Bullyland ammonite model is used to help illustrate a display of ammonite fossils. The building materials may contain mollusc shells.  Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

For models and replicas of Palaeozoic and Mesozoic invertebrates and other prehistoric animal figures: CollectA Prehistoric Life Models and Replicas.

The Fossil Mystery Tour guide is now available from the Information Desk in the terminal building.

For visitors to the airport the guide will provide an educational and informative way to help pass the time, after all, standing on an ancient sea floor which is 250 million years old is something that we don’t get the chance to do everyday.

Although not famous for its palaeontological heritage the Cheshire and Liverpool area has a number of public buildings made from sedimentary rock, in which fossils can be found.  Indeed, fossils can turn up in some very strange and unexpected places, take the quiet village of Lymm in Cheshire for example:

Article about Dinosaurs at Lymm (Cheshire).