Finding Your Inner Toad

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Crinoids at Cocklawburn
Amphibian Bone

Such a slimey warty skin, but look into their eyes and you will see the inky darkness of a happy soul surrounded by a patterned ring of coppery brightness. We have an ambivalent relationship with the amphibian world from kissing them into handsome princes to tadpole hunting, then watching as they metamorphose from aqueous wrigglers into leggy land-dwellers that hop off into the next generation.

Apart from being able to find a common toad or frog and several varieties of newt quietly ambling about their business here in Northumberland, we have an even deeper connection to our amphibious relatives. Hidden within the rocks of North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders are the fossils of the very first creatures to evolve their fishy lobed fins into legs and start walking on land. These petrified creatures have only recently been discovered and are causing great excitement as we start to discover the first shambling steps of these ancient amphibious tetrapods, the very beginning of the walk down the evolutionary pathways that eventually led to us.

The rocks of North Northumberland define its beautiful landscape and more, telling stories of an ancient past that define our history and connect to our present. The earliest rocks in which fossil amphibians have been discovered can be seen on the banks of the River Whitadder as well as on the foreshore in the dramatic cliff backed villages at Burnmouth. Fossils can also been found in many locations further south along the coast, particularly in the limestones which preserve the remains of a rich variety of sea-dwelling creatures including corals, crinoids and the occasional nautiloid.

All of these locations are protected so the best way of taking fossils is with a picture, hammers definitely not OK!

You can find out more about the TWE:eed project, which was set up to explore the early amphibious fossils at the website 

There is information about the geodiversity of the Northumberland National Park and the Northumberland Coast AONB on their websites.

and you can find more about amphibian species from the Northumberland Wildlife Trust on their dedicated page

About Ian

Ian Kille
Ian runs Northumbrian Earth sharing his enthusiasm for rocks, fossils and the landscape with visitors and the local community. He runs regular geowalks and other events. If you want more information head over to his website.


Contact Information

Contact Name
Ian Kille
+44 (0)1668 216066