When my friend Don Burgess, another ex science teacher, but one who became a Minister of Religion a long, long time ago, heard that I was staying on the Jurassic Coast he messaged me on Facebook “Can you get a photo of a nice dinosaur bone?” Well I missed out then but in the Museum in Warwick I not only got pictures but the story of the Rev. Peter Bellinger Brodie.
Well, first the dinosaur – and I must tell my readers that Don is a very keen fisherman, well known for walking past my tent, dressed up to fish in pouring rain, singing “oh what a beautiful morning” to the distress of many a wet and bedraggled camper. What better fossil then than a marine fish eating reptile the PLESIOSAURUS.
This specimen is 3 metres long and not typical of the group, which normally has a very elongated neck (now think of a marine, mammalian giraffe. Maybe Darwinians would use the term “convergent evolution”!)Those who collected this specimen assumed that the neck section was missing, so left a blank space when mounting the bones.
I just love this one. Four metres long but with a head smaller than my fist. What a head for fishing though!
For a last look at fossil bones. These vertebrae were about 40 cm long but as round as an axe handle. Not an animal you would want to swim with!
Well I better get onto the Rev. Peter Bellinger Brodie
In his book At Home, Bill Bryson describes how the English clergy system, through the 18th and 19th centuries produced a local renaissance in the sciences and arts. By that time period, the English were not an especially pious bunch, and as such the clergy system fostered a generation of well-educated and financially comfortable young men who ended up with a great deal of time on their hands. According to Bryson, most of these sons of the gentry studied classics rather than divinity and many of them were not expected to do much more for their rural parishioners other than recite an unoriginal sermon on Sunday mornings. As a result, many of these otherwise idle hands produced a flowering of discovery, ideas, inventions, and creative works.Quoted from http://illusionofmore.com/probable-causes.
Peter fits this scenario well.He had a passion for Natural Science, especially Geology from an early age, being elected a fellow of the Geological Society at the age of 19, before moving to Cambridge to prepare for the Ministry. He spent the rest of his long life as a Minister, apparently successfully, as he spent the last 50 years as a rural Dean in the area near Warwick. He was a superbly organised collector. The Museum here was started on the 25,000 catalogued specimens he left and the many important papers he had written.
There you go Don – circularity. A long dead Minister remembered for his fossils and a still lively one who retains an interest in them yet.