Fossil reptile remains were first found in the Otter Sandstone, seen on the coast between the mouth of the River Otter and the River Sid, in the late 19th century. Further discoveries have been made since, notably by Dr Patrick Spencer while he was still at school in the 1980s.
Reptiles such as Fodonyx spenceri were about one metre long, low and lizard-like with a broad head. They were vegetarian equipped with a pair of long tooth-like bony projections from the upper jaw, perhaps used for digging up roots. Their teeth were low and rounded, ideal for grinding up plant matter. The nature of the Otter sandstone shows that they lived beside a stream with plants along its banks, but the environment was semi-desert.
A partial skull from the Otter sandstone near Peak Hill is a Holotype (the single defining specimen of a fossil which bears the scientific name) of the Rhynchosaur Fodonyx spenceri named after Dr Spencer. This skull is on permanent display in the Down to Earth gallery.
The skull has recently been scanned by the British Geological Survey as part of their project to make 3D scans of British type fossils. Images with black background taken by BGS and reproduced here under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Visit https://www.3d-fossils.ac.uk to view these photos in 3D. https://www.3d-fossils.ac.uk/fossilType.cfm?typSampleId=25001204
Specimen published: Benton, M J, 1990: The species Rhynchosaurus (Reptilia Diapsida). Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society of London, No. 1247, B. Biological Sciences, v. 328, p. 213-306.
This object is on display at RAMM in the Down to Earth gallery.