West Runton discovery could indicate the origins of mankind

Russell Yeomans on the sponge reef at West Runton.

Russell Yeomans on the sponge reef at West Runton. - Credit: Russell Yeomans

A discovery by a north Norfolk man could help shed some light on not only the history of the local coastline, but also the origins of mankind itself.

West Runton reef pictured from the sky, taken by Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam

West Runton reef pictured from the sky, taken by Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam Copeland and Dr Steve Boreham, Geography Science Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, in conjunction with the research of Mr Russell Yeomans. - Credit: Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam Copeland and Dr Steve Boreham, Geography Science Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, in conjunction with the research of Mr Russell Yeomans.

Amateur archaeologist Russell Yeomans believes he has discovered a Cretaceous sponge reef off the coast of West Runton, the first of its kind to be found.

This research was picked up by professors at the University of Cambridge, who were keen to take aerial images of the reef to gain better insight into its structure.

The sponge reef came into being towards the end of the Jurassic period, meaning it could be anywhere between 145 and 65 million years old.

Mr Yeomans, a Gunton resident, said: 'What I've discovered is that there are barrel-like chunks of flint running across a huge sponge reef off the West Runton coast. The reef is about a kilometer long.

Aerial shots taken of the West Runton reef via drone. Picture: Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher

Aerial shots taken of the West Runton reef via drone. Picture: Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam Copeland and Dr Steve Boreham, Geography Science Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, in conjunction with the research of Mr Russell Yeomans. - Credit: Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam Copeland and Dr Steve Boreham, Geography Science Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, in conjunction with the research of Mr Russell Yeomans.


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'From my research, and analysing flint it seems that flint comes from sponge itself, because we can find fossilised sponge larvae specimen which have been petrified in the rock.'

This potential breakthrough could be ground breaking alone, however the fossil-hunter continued: 'However these barrels of flint all run along a north-east line, which could suggest that when they were formed way back in the Cretaceous period, they ran along the northern edge of the Tethys ocean, which flowed around the middle of the planet at the time.

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'If we trace where these land edges were formed, and so where sponge beds and flint could be found, this is where historians have traced early human civilisation to, whether it's here in Europe or the Eqyptians.'

Mr Yeomans, who is part of the duo which discovered a mammoth bone on the beach earlier in the year, added: 'This makes sense, because where people would find materials for tools and weapons they would stay, so because we've found this sponge bed in West Runton, we now know the motivation prehistoric humans had to settle here.'

West Runton from the sky. Picture: Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam Copeland and

West Runton from the sky. Picture: Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam Copeland and Dr Steve Boreham, Geography Science Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, in conjunction with the research of Mr Russell Yeomans. - Credit: Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam Copeland and Dr Steve Boreham, Geography Science Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, in conjunction with the research of Mr Russell Yeomans.

Mr Yeomans continued: 'Because of this sponge bed there's too much evidence, it can't be disputed in my mind how flint is formed and why it can be found here. My digging partner, Dan Chamberlain was studying flint in the same way before I met him, and he'd come to the same conclusion.'

For more information about paramoudra, visit Mr Yeomans' website.

The West Runton reef captured by drone. Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam Copeland

The West Runton reef captured by drone. Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam Copeland and Dr Steve Boreham, Geography Science Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, in conjunction with the research of Mr Russell Yeomans. - Credit: Dr Christopher Jeans, Dr Christopher Rolfe, Mr Adam Copeland and Dr Steve Boreham, Geography Science Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, in conjunction with the research of Mr Russell Yeomans.

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