An ammonite that featured in David Attenborough’s latest documentary is the star of a west Dorset museum.

The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre has just had ‘one of its busiest winters on record’ with visitor numbers matching what is normally seen in the summer.

The BBC documentary, Attenborough and the Giant Sea Monster, which hit TV screens on January 1, featured the ammonite at the beginning of the programme and is thought to be behind the increase in winter visitors.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: The ammonite in Charmouth Heritage Coast CentreThe ammonite in Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre (Image: Supplied)

Ali Ferris, Earth Marine and Environment Manager at Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre said: "The ammonite was found quite a long time ago by one of my colleagues Phil and is on display alongside a number of other ammonites at the moment.

"The reaction has been incredible - it has been absolutely ridiculous, we have just had one of our busiest winters on record. With the number of visitors we have had, I thought it could have been August, it is very unusual for it to be that busy in January.

"I think the documentary largely helped bring people in, the last time we were this busy was the last time David Attenborough did a documentary with the sea dragon about five years ago."

The documentary focuses on the discovery of a giant pliosaur skull in Kimmeridge which is now on display in the Etches Collection Museum.

The ‘snout’ of the marine reptile fell out of a cliff, and a friend of museum owner Steve Etches, discovered it ‘buried in the shingle.’

Mr Etches said: “It’s one of the largest carnivorous reptiles that has ever lived – at the top of the food chain. This is not the biggest, it’s a medium sized one – but bigger than a t rex.”

David Attenborough got involved with the discovery thanks to his good friend and fellow fossil hunter Chris Moore, who helped to excavate the fossil.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: The pliosaur skull. (Left) Chris Moore. (Right) Steve EtchesThe pliosaur skull. (Left) Chris Moore. (Right) Steve Etches (Image: Hollie Carr)

Mr Moore said: “This is his [David Attenborough’s] love, fossils are his absolute passion, he has collected them since he was a child. He just loves fossils, and he was excited to do this documentary because it’s such an amazing find it inspires.”

Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre is open to the public Friday to Monday, from 10.30am to 4pm and the documentary is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer.