A HOLIDAYMAKER out fishing has stumbled upon a rare mammoth tooth fossil in Seatown.
Chris Gasson, 35, from Eastbourne, was spending a week-long holiday in Chideock with his wife Kerry and six-week-old baby Mabel when he visited the beach to cast a line.
The builder discovered the tooth just below the tide line after first dismissing it as part of an oyster shell.
The mammoth tooth, estimated to be between 12,000 and 15,000 years old, measures 80mm wide by 150mm tall.
Mr Gasson said: “When I first saw it I thought it was just a fossil, but I took it back to the bed and breakfast, and the owner told me to take it to local museums because she thought it was a mammoth tooth.
“I took it to the palaeontologist in Charmouth and he confirmed it as one.
“It was a bit of a shock.
“I know they are not found here often so it took me by surprise.
“I don’t have any real plans for it at the moment, I think I’ll just put it in a glass case on my mantelpiece or donate it to the Charmouth heritage centre.”
Paddy Howe, geologist at Lyme Regis Museum, said he has been working as a geologist for 12 years and this discovery of a mammoth tooth marks the first one he has heard of in Dorset. He added: “This find is incredibly uncommon for West Dorset, I am aware that a mammoth tooth was found in Devon recently.
“The tooth is estimated to be around 15,000 years old, which is a lot younger than the 200 million year old fossils we usually find – but the find is incredibly rare.
“I’d be very interested to know exactly how old the tooth is; I’m sure it’s got some brilliant history.”
Palaeontologist at Charmouth Heritage Centre Phil Davidson said complete confirmation will come from experts at the Natural History Museum.
He added: “It was certainly a rare find, the last time someone brought in a similar item to the centre was more than 20 years ago.
“The find will also be recorded on the West Dorset fossil collecting code which keeps a record of all the rare items found in the area.”
Mr Davidson also issued a warning to residents and holidaymakers to stay clear of the cliffs when searching for fossils due to their unstable state.