Not everyone can claim to have a dinosaur in their garden shed, but John Lambert of Suffolk in England can. At least he could for the last sixteen years. Mr Lambert was digging holes to put in a new fence in 1997, when his spade hit a large obstacle. After much exertion he unearthed what looked to be a large bone, and with remarkable sang-froid, he thought to store it in his shed. John Lambert is now 68 and retired from his career in merchant banking and, at long last, he decided it might be an idea to have some experts take a look at his finding.
“Life gets on top of you doesn’t it” said Mr Lambert, explaining the length of time it took him to go down the road to his local museum in Ipswich. When he got there, the experts were astounded. It is not every day somebody walks in with the upper limb of a 250 million year old pliosaur reptile in their hands.
The dinosaur bone, left in the garden shed for nigh on two decades, was confirmed to be pricless, and aeons ago had belonged to a form of dinosaur sea-killer. Pliosaurs, it is belived, were on avergae around 65 feet long and had razor sharp teeth and limbs adapted for paddling. John Lambert said that he knew the bone was unusually big and heavy, and that he had had it in his mind to get it examined one day. It is in fact 15 pounds in weight and 16 inches long, and was a bone from the upper limb of the enormous beast.
The plot thickens hereon in as the curators at the Ipswich Museum cannot fathom how the pliosaur came to be in British waters. Similar remnants have been found before, but never in this part of the world, with fossils having turned up in the continents of Africa, Australia and China.
The retired gentleman is pleased that he finally got around to identifying his specimen, and admits that, although it is not officially from Suffolk, it has now become a part of the region’s heritage. To have had the leg bone of a feared and ferocious killer lurking in your garden shed for all those years, and then to have it revealed to be a dinosaur, is the sort of story that might give some people sleepless nights, but Mr Lambert seems quite pleased about it. “I can honestly say we’ve found nothing whatsoever of any value” he said of his eight acre plot of garden “so it’s really fun to have found this.”
The sleepy village of Tuddenham St Martin, home to the Lamberts for 29 years, is not accustomed to coping with the notion that the remains of the most feared predator that ever existed on the planet, somehow ended up in a neighbour’s garden shed. It is quite likely that Mr Lambert will dine out on his story for some time to come. Despite realising straight away that the bone was somehow special, he opted to pop the old sea monster in the shed for safe keeping. Little did he know that in doing so he was shelving a key part of Jurassic archeological history.
It is a whimsical notion to have fairies at the bottom of the garden. It is perhaps less so to have a massive remnant of a giant underwater lizard parked down there. At least the dinosaur bone is now safely in the museum where it can be analysed, and Mr Lambert’s garden shed can go back to being the reptile-free repository for his lawnmower and tools.
By Kate Henderson