The World’s Most Exciting Fossil Museum

When he is not fixing people’s pipes as part of regular residential plumbing services, Steve Etches enjoys nothing better than scanning the seas down in Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset, awaiting ancient lifeforms to show themselves.

For more than 35 years, the 67-year-old, who runs a plumbing and heating company, has spent his spare time carefully finding, cleaning and exploring a mind-blowing selection of over 2,000 marine fossils, from up to 150 million years back, including several world-firsts.

Incredibly, only 10 percent of Steve’s discoveries in the late Jurassic Kimmeridgian period are on display in the carbon-neutral Etches Collection museum, which opened late last year in the village of Kimmeridge, a brief walk from Steve’s house, where he once placed everything in the garage.

All shiny and wooden, the memorial is shaped somewhat like the hull of a ship, With the exhibits in glass cases at the lower half, over which the fossils are brought to life with giant screens showing CGI versions of monsters that once swam in our oceans, giving the effect of being in an aquarium.

Here are a few of Steve’s most important finds…

The impressive one

Bear in mind the giant mosasaur which jumps from the water in Jurassic Earth? Steve’s collection includes this striking jaw of an equally powerful aquatic monster: the pliosaur.

It was a hard-won fossil, since it did not come out in one hit. Steve, who found that the hinge part and then, over four decades, collected and stuck pieces back together, with the tooth-bearing section tantalisingly staying put in the cliff.

Before his wife was going to have their last child and before his day job in hot water service repairs, he went around there very early one morning and there was a massive great hole in the cliff, about 40-foot long and this terrific heap of sand, rubble and grass at the foot of it.

He remembers pulling the top of the shale debris back and the tip of the jaw stuck out and he knew he had got it! There are two pieces he never found and a few teeth missing, but after that week they had a very severe storm and it removed all the debris, so he considers themselves lucky.

The young one

Ichthyosaurs are now in vogue with palaeontologists after several recent discoveries, and Steve’s juvenile specimen, the most complete Kimmeridgian ichthyosaur thus far, is of special interest.

Apart from having a full stomach, showing this marine reptile had eaten squid and fish before it expired, there is also a section of skin over its ribs, which shows lines which might have helped streamline the animal.

After Steve and a friend spotted what looked like fish bones sticking out of the base of a cliff, it was another bold mission to recoup the fossil. They cut a massive great gap in the cliff, it took all day – but it was a justifiable threat we were ready to take.

The stomach segment came out and they worked in the dark to find the skull, digging out an enormous slab, not actually able to find out what it was. They carried it back a mile and a half – it took them about three and a half hours to clean it up and discover the tip of the jaw. It was then he knew he had the whole lot.

Those Darwin did not find

Steve has a collection of goose barnacles (nicknamed Darwin’s Missing Barnacles) on display in the museum’s exhibition display services. Charles Darwin was enthusiastic about those arthropods and analyzed several living specimens off the coast of Japan, but could never prove they’d originated in the Jurassic period.

A few years ago, a professor came to see Steve’s barnacles and was quite excited. He had said, ‘I don’t know if you realise, but I’m pretty sure this complete goose barnacle is the best I’ve ever seen’.

Steve’s find proved something Darwin had just been able to hypothesise, and therefore he has been given deserved recognition from the scientific community. Since that time, he discovered a 2.8 metre [fossilised] log, covered in thousands of Barnacles – and they are the most beautiful, best maintained Jurassic barnacles anybody’s ever seen.

The egg hunt

Another world first for Steve was his discovery of ammonite eggs. He found what seemed like two sacks of eggs, but without a reference book on little fossil eggs to consult, he compared them to modern-day cuttlefish eggs.

The form of the cuttlefish eggs is like those, so he thought that if they are not cuttlefish eggs, the other common cephalopod we have got are ammonites. There are over 8,000 species of ammonites, but nobody found the eggs.

After discovering that they were near real ammonite fossils, he teamed up with A world-famous ammonite palaeontologist to write a joint paper on his fossils and whether they were really ammonite eggs. And he’s since found more that are going to be taken out of their modular exhibition spaces to be CAT scanned to determine if they have miniature ammonite embryos inside.

Advice for Final Year Arts Students

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As an arts student, I really struggled with my last few years of study. When you think about creating art compared to the demands of educational institutions it becomes quickly apparent why many very intelligent, super creative people don’t do well. For me, I was lucky my parents insisted I initially get a year 11 tutor and then a year 12 tutor for the harder subjects I was taking, I know this isn’t an easily available option for everyone so here’s some general advice for getting through your final schooling years

The final year of secondary school is significant, but it will not be the most significant year of your lifetime. Keep things in perspective since you are much more than your ATAR score.

Your performance at Year 12 is just an indication of your skill at a test or exam at the same point in time, it’s more about mastering mindset and acing exams more than anything else. It doesn’t restrain your potential success or enjoyment in the future.


If you believe that the time is not right for you to finish Year 12, or you have a burning passion to do something aside from educational studies, then discuss this with your professional development counsellor and learn what your choices are (TAFE, an apprenticeship, full-time employment, volunteering, or part-time employment). Keep in mind you have several means to achieve your objectives.

Look after yourself

Your mind and body are tightly connected – caring for your own body has good rewards for your brain and increases your possibility mindset. Tasks like games, dancing, yoga or walking can boost your performance by increasing oxygen to your brain. It’s also good at reducing overall stress from tensions in other parts in your life and the demand/pressures of school and/or work.

Some anxiety may be useful in keeping us inspired — without it we’d find it really hard to stay alert! But during Year 12, and particularly during test time, you might locate your stress levels climbing high into the ‘crucial zone’, resulting in a dramatic reduction in functionality. Proven strategies for beating anxiety include:

Comfort: Smartphone programs such as Smiling Mind can help

Time management: Try making a record of actions and prioritise

Connecting with other people: Discuss your concerns, laugh, be positive!

Remember to be kind to yourself: Take time out to perform the things you like or help you keep your wellbeing


Get a Great night’s sleep

Sleep is very important to our bodies to recoup and recharge. Without it, it can be tough to focus and remember things. It may make it tough to maintain your energy levels. Sleep is food for the mind and is crucial to your health, the same as the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food that you consume.

To Help You to Get a Fantastic night’s sleep, it is helpful to:

  • Get up at precisely the exact same time every morning
  • Avoid too much alcohol or caffeine in the afternoon
  • Write down your worries before going to bed so that you may get the job done on a few solutions another day
  • Do something relaxing for approximately 30 minutes prior to visiting Mattress
  • Prevent fractures in the daytime
  • Get active daily.

If you can’t sleep: Get up for around 15-20 minutes in the event that you cannot sleep instead of staying in bed feeling stressed — return to bed if you are feeling more relaxed and tired

Managing your Study Load

stress, study, year 11 tutorAfter finishing your school evaluations and other long-term Commitments, recall your targets and motives for finishing these landmarks by writing them down and putting them someplace where you may see them frequently, such as close to your PC.

It’s also very important to study clever, by eliminating distractions like social websites. Research proves that students using social websites while learning (even if just from the background) earn 20 percent lower marks than students who do not!

If You’re struggling to stay on focus, There’s some applications that could help by temporarily preventing you from social networking websites, addictive apps and games. Attempt Cold Turkey for PCs or even Self-Control on Macs.

Obtaining support

We all know sometimes life does obstruct our ability to study. Matters Like depression, issues at school or home, body image problems, binge drinking and medication are things that could block you from staying focused.

These issues can occur in almost any year of school and may be overly large to handle alone. Speak to your student welfare officer, a trustworthy adult, online or telephone services for some guidance and alternative solutions.

If You Would like to encourage your buddy but you are concerned about saying the incorrect thing or making the problem worse, the beyondblue Check-in program takes you through four simple, quick actions to decide what you may state and how you may support your buddy.

Remember too that you can also use your friends as support to study. One of my long-time friends practically became my math tutor throughout year 12, every week me and a few other friends would meet to study, but it was also a great way to check-in with everyone and a good productive social event

In Summary

It’s not worth putting yourself through hell for what should be some of the best years of your life. Remember school isn’t everything and never let it kill your creative vibe. There’s so many ways to become an artist and get involved in the art world besides the traditional route. Take school seriously but never so seriously that it’s detrimental to your health, relationships and life

Different Styles of Painting

Throughout history, painting has been used to communicate a variety of social and political ideals. As different movements have emerged and disbanded different reactions have evoked new styles to represent these ideals. Although a lot of deep thought has often gone into developing these new styles it doesn’t take much thought to appreciate and enjoy these pieces.


In painting and art in general abstract is a term used to describe pieces that do not depict conventional objects, people or settings. In abstract art, people use color and shape to reflect their ideas or statement.

The term first started to gain widespread use during the early nineteenth century. Abstract was used to describe works from cubist and futurist movements where the subject would be portrayed in a new light.

Abstract works would focus on the values and properties of their subject rather than the external appearance to produce an image truly abstract in form from other works of the era. Famous artists of abstract works include Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso amongst much more.


Expressionism is an art form which encompasses works of literature, music, and films as well as paintings and other forms of art.

In expressionist paintings, the artist visually changes their subject to evoke an emotional response. These emotional reactions are usually showing negative emotions such as tension, angst, and fear.

One of the most iconic examples of expressionist painting is The Scream by Munch. Other noted artists include Kandinsky, Greco, and Kubin.


Cubism emerged during the early twentieth century and was originally deemed as abstract art. Although the two are connected and share creative influences there are enough differences to differentiate them as separate styles.

Cubism formed part of a new wave movement of avant-garde arts that not only effected painting but also writing, music and all creative arts. The avant-garde movement inspired people and brought change by challenging existing forms and conceptions by creating new works seemingly of another era further ahead in time.

How cubism differs from abstract works is that cubism features traditional objects and people as subjects in a new form. While abstract would focus on using unrelated colors and shapes to present a perception of the subject cubism would take segments of the subject and rearrange them into new forms. The subject will often be shown from multiple viewpoints and angles in the same piece to demonstrate its roles and context in order to challenge our perception.

The finished pieces often have a jagged, somewhat haphazard look as the surfaces and textures become entwined with the subject leaving trademark open spaces that are left open to interpretation.

A classic demonstration would be Picasso’s series of portraits where the subjects face would be distorted and rearranged into a blocky, misshapen form. Other notable artists of the Cubist movement include Fernand Leger and Georges Braque.