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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Honorary degree for Dorset fossil enthusiast

Published: 1 August 2017
Steve Etches
Steve Etches

Amateur geologist Steve Etches has received an honorary doctorate at the University of Southampton in recognition of his passion for collecting fossils in Dorset.

For over 35 years, while working as a plumber, he spent his spare time classifying 150 million year old fossils he had discovered in Kimmeridge clay. His collection of more than 2,000 specimens has long been available for students and researchers to use in their studies and it has now become the Museum of Jurassic Marine Life.

“I felt a bit of a fraud receiving an honorary degree because I come from a non-academic background, but colleagues assured me that my 35 years of fieldwork counted as it has significantly increased our knowledge of Kimmeridge fossils,” says Steve.

Now a World Heritage site, Dorset’s 95 mile Jurassic coast was once a tropical sea and home to many fascinating creatures including flying reptiles and the first feathered birds. On land, giant plant eating sauropods grazed on tropical ferns and early conifers.

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