Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 14:12 UK

Garden stone 80-million-years-old

Fish fossil
Mr Parvin said he picked it up because it looked like a fish

An unusual stone that has been in a retired police officer's rockery for 15 years has turned out to be an 80 million-year-old fossil.

Peter Parvin, 74, of Maidstone, picked up the fossilised fish head from a beach between Pevensey, East Sussex and Dungeness, Kent, during a holiday.

It was then in his garden until experts at the town's museum looked at it.

Dr Ed Jarzembowski, keeper of natural history, dated the fossil from the Cretaceous period.

Mr Parvin said: "I was walking with my son Simon and noticed this stone, thought it looked nice and took it with us.

It has been heavily weathered because it has sat in a rockery for so long and before that it was a beach pebble but it is certainly an 80 million-year-old fossil
Dr Ed Jarzembowski

"We always bring back a stone from wherever we go on holiday and we picked this one up because it looked like a fish head and was most unusual. I didn't think any more about it really."

It was only when a friend of Mr Parvin, deputy mayor of Maidstone and councillor for Leeds village, who works at Maidstone Museum suggested he had the stone looked at that the truth emerged.

Dr Jarzembowski, who examined the fish head, said: "I have shown it to other geologists and they are certain that it is absolutely a fossil. It's not a sculpture.

"It has been heavily weathered because it has sat in a rockery for so long and before that it was a beach pebble but it is certainly an 80 million-year-old fossil."

He said that during the Cretaceous period, the area covering Kent, Sussex and Hampshire would have been a tropical sea.

Mr Parvin said he was not sure what he would now do with the fossil but it would probably stay at the museum for the time being.


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