Posted 2 December 2013 by Andrew Gardner
I wonder how Misty the diplodocus felt on being transported half way round the world. We take travel and holidays so much for granted but for Misty's generation, well, it was something pretty big. Almost as big as Misty, in fact. She left her hiding place in Wyoming, where she was found by a pair of teenagers - the sons of an eminent palaeontologist, mind you - to be assembled in Rotterdam and thence to an auction room in Billingshurst, West Sussex, where she recently sold for £400,000.
As to where next, conjecture has involved multi-billionaires or some huge shopping mall with an atrium big enough for such a massive skeleton. What we do know is that Misty was bought by an institution which has promised to put her on public display. Now that is some tourist attraction, don't you think? The auctioneers admitted they would miss her - I guess you'd get used to having something that size around the office. In fact you'd probably have been climbing over it, so you'd definitely know when it left.
But Sussex has its own fossils, albeit on a smaller scale. We're not talking serious dino-hunting but the Wealden clays go back 125 million years and contain beds of sandstone - better known, perhaps, as the distinctive Horsham Stone - and freshwater limestone containing fossilised snail shells, a.k.a. Sussex Marble. Fossil soils form part of the sediments, estimated to be 55m-43m years old, that lie beneath the West Sussex coastal plain. What's known as the Bracklesham group is a good example: the shell beds exposed at low tide are spectacular and it's amazing to think they're that old. Rock reefs just off Selsey called The Hounds and The Mixon are also formed of marine sediments, while Mixon was used for building as far back as Roman times, including at Fishbourne Roman Palace, and can be seen in the older parts of Selsey.
So I'd like to think Misty has a genuine link to Sussex and perhaps this county is embedded somewhere in her DNA. And if you'd like to walk over our ancient soils with history beneath your feet, our lovely holiday cottages provide the perfect base.