A geologist with the Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark has discovered a 320-million-year-old shark tooth fossil on the north Clare coastline at Doolin.
Dr. Eamon Doyle made the discovery of the tooth belonging to a shark that once hunted in the ancient seas of the Carboniferous period in the waters off Ireland at a time when Ireland was located close to the equator.
“Fossil sharks teeth of this age are very rare in Ireland and so it extends the known range of fossil sharks in Ireland,” said Dr. Doyle.
“Equally significant is the information it gives us about the biodiversity of these ancient seas. This shark tooth tells us that apex predators of up to 70cm were living here at the time. It is possible they were feeding on creatures known as nautiloids which are spiral-shelled creatures which grew to about 10cm where the tooth was found. These nautiloids were also predators and prior to this find would have been regarded as the apex predator. It is hoped that further finds will add more information,” he added.
The fossil will be placed on public display on Thursday 25th May at an event, entitled There’s Life in the Old Rocks of Clare, in Ennistymon Public Library. The event marks the start of the annual Burren Rocks programme (Thursday 25th May – Monday 29th May 2017), which features a range of fun and educational events exploring how the history, culture, flora and fauna of the Burren have been shaped by the region’s geology.
Other events being held during the week include a Bird call identification walk with staff of the Burren National Park, a guided walk through time with Geopark geologist and National Park Staff guides, a Bug hunt for children and a National Schools Burren Quiz.
On Monday 28th May meanwhile, archaeologists and students of NUI Galway’s Irish Fieldschool of Prehistoric Archaeology will turn the sod on a new excavation at Parkabinnia wedge tomb in the Burren, which is hoped will provide a better understanding of the burial rituals, beliefs and social structures of Ireland.
"This annual festival explores the underlying geology of the Burren and how it holds many fascinating clues to conditions on Earth during the past 330 million years, including the end of the last Ice Age 15,000 years ago which gave the Burren its current shape,” stated Dr. Doyle.
He continued, “Academic research throughout the Geopark is active and scientists and students come from all over the world to see what we have here. Our activities are designed to give people a taste of the geology and how it affects the landscape and also the culture of the Burren.
The Burren Rocks is part of European Geoparks Network Week - a week-long celebration across the 64 Geoparks spread across 22 European countries - and is supported by Clare County Council, the Burren National Park, Burren Outdoor Education Centre, Clare Local Development Company (CLDC) and the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI). Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark is managed by Clare County Council and supported by the GSI. Visit www.burren.ie for further information.
BURREN ROCKS PROGRAMME:
11.30 -12.30: There’s Life in the Old Rocks of Clare. A talk in Ennistymon Public Library by Geopark Geologist Dr. Eamon Doyle about the fossils to be found in Clare.
12.00 – 16.00: Walk this (Burren)Way. A 4 hour - 20km walk along the Burren Way from Corofin to the Burren National Park with Rural Recreation Officer Eoin Hogan.
This walk is largely along public road with some offroad sections including modest inclines but this is a marathon not a sprint so only suitable for those with appropriate levels of fitness. Return to Corofin using the Burren National Park bus from Gortlecka. Meet at NPWS Info Point Corofin.
Bring: Appropriate footwear essential. Water and snacks. Sunscreen.
11.00 -12.30: Reading the Burren landscape. Discover the ancient and more recent life of the Burren with Geopark geologist and National Park Staff guides. Suitable for families but the rough surface is not suitable for buggies. No dogs please. Dress appropriately for the terrain and weather, including sunscreen.
14.00 – 15.30: Bug hunt for children. Explore the beauty and fascination of some of the smallest and often overlooked creatures in the Burren National Park.
Important! Numbers are strictly limited so book early. Booking: burrennationalpark@ahg,gov.ie
Bring: Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn! Dress appropriately for the terrain and weather, including sunscreen.
14.00 – 15.30: Reading the Burren landscape. A walk through time with Geopark geologist and National Park Staff guides. Suitable for families but the rough surface is not suitable for buggies. No dogs please. Dress appropriately for the terrain and weather, including sunscreen.
10.30 – 13.30: National Schools Burren Quiz at the Burren Outdoor Education Centre. An opportunity for schools to showcase their amazing depth of local knowledge about our fantastic Burren. Sponsored by the Burren Outdoor Education Centre
15.00 – 16.00: Turning the first sod on new archaeological investigations in the Burren by Dr. Ros O’Maolduin, Dr. Ger Dowling and students from NUI Galway fieldschool: The Irish Fieldschool of Prehistoric Archaeology . The excavation aims to gain a better understanding of the burial rituals, beliefs and social structures of those who built and were buried in Parkabinnia wedge tomb. Meet at Parkabinnia (Kilnaboy-Carron road) at 3pm, no parking at site, please park to the north and walk 10 minutes to site.