Fissures in Carboniferous Limestone have been well studied in the Mendip area. Charles Moore led the way 100 years ago with his discovery of primitive mammalian teeth in a fissure at Holwell, near Frome.

By 1957 research had classified these fissures as 1. Neptunean, 2. Sagged Neptunean, 3. Sub-aerial and 4. Underground Cave Systems. Mr Whiteside’s research was at Tytherington (Glos.) which was an underground cave system. The fissure at Tytherington quarry was exposed on the third level down. It was almost circular in shape and filled with dolomitised breccia and conglomerate. In a small part of this rock was found 100 bones and claws of unknown early dinosaur creatures, enough to prove at least 14 animals, both young and adult in age perished here. Putting the bones together a skull nearly an inch long was made, which probably meant that this lizard type creature was about 10 inches long. When a skeleton was assembled the holes through which the nerves, veins and arteries passed matched up completely. The teeth of these animals had a shearing mechanism very few reptiles had then, but cats and dogs have it today. Even a re-healed jaw bone was found. This creature awaits identification and a name! The nearest living relative is found on a remote island in New Zealand, a reptile with a remnant third eye, a living fossil.

This fissure is in Black Rock limestone beds and could have been developed when the Carboniferous Limestone ridge of the Mendips and South Wales stood up as islands in the Rhaetic sea, so there would have been an upland and marine flora and fauna. In trying to date the fissure Mr Whiteside reasoned that Upper Triassic plant spores might be found. These are very distinctive and well preserved, as they are resistant to bacteria and oxidisation. Not only were spores found of Rhaetic age, but also marine dinoflagellate organisms.

So here at Tytherington, in an underground cave system was deposited terrestrial vertebrate bones, land spores and marine micro-fossils. From five to six kilos of rock, one hundred and twenty individuals were dissolved, certainly a puzzle as to how they got there. The rock infill of this hole might have been caused by a cavern collapse and filled with a mud flow from above.