A fossil discovered on a beach in Norfolk could be up to 100 million years old. 

The fossil is that of an echinoid, otherwise known as a sea urchin, and dates back to the Cretaceous period. 

It was found on Gorleston beach by Madelaine Miller, who spotted the object while walking along the seafront with her daughter on Sunday.

Eastern Daily Press: The fossil was found in GorlestonThe fossil was found in Gorleston (Image: Madelaine Miller)

"We were looking for pretty stones and spotted it facing upwards on the water's edge," she said.

"It stood out as it's so unusual."

Sea urchins are related to starfish and share several similarities including their 'five-fold symmetry' which is clearly seen in the five arms of the starfish. 

This particular creature was a heart-shaped sea urchin and most lived on the surface of the sea floor.

According to expert palaeontologist Dr David Waterhouse, the fossil could be anywhere between 70 and 100 million years old. 

READ MORE: One of UK's most spectacular nature events to take place in Norfolk

Dinosaurs like the Velociraptor and the Tyrannosaurus were still walking the earth around this time. 

Dr Waterhouse said: "We don't get any dinosaur fossils because here in Norfolk we were covered by a warm sea during the Cretaceous period.

"Sea urchins are common on the coast and beyond in fields, although heart-shaped urchins are slightly less common.

"This is a very good example, showing lots of detail."

The creatures can be preserved in a number of different ways - in this case, the sea urchin appears to have left an impression cast in flint. 

Eastern Daily Press: Madelaine Miller found the fossil on Gorleston beachMadelaine Miller found the fossil on Gorleston beach (Image: Madelaine Miller)People who find sea urchin fossils are allowed to keep them providing only a few specimens are taken. 

Ms Miller said that she would be keeping a close eye out for more fossils on the beach in the future.

She added: "I'll probably never find one again."

Finding fossils: Some top tips

Finding fossils combines scientific skills with experience and a considerable amount of luck.

It is crucial to remember that any fossil can provide loads of scientific information, therefore it is essential to collect fossils in a way which enables this information to be preserved.

These guidelines will put you on the right path:

- Stick to the footpaths and the beach - do not add to coastal erosion by climbing up or down the cliffs.

- Never dig into the cliffs - it is dangerous and speeds the cliffs' erosion. There are plenty of fossils on the beach.

- Take only a few specimens - leave some for others.

- Always make a note of where and when you found your fossils - photographs are very helpful.