Fossils from the Triassic Period are extremely rare and often only tiny fragments are found. The river sediment deposits of the Otter Sandstone Formation provided the best conditions at the time and they have yielded some exceptional finds, like that of the Rynchosaur, otherwise known as the Beaked Lizard, examples of which can be found in Exeter Museum.
Rynchosaurs were herbivorous reptiles that grazed on the wetlands and lush vegetation growing alongside the Triassic desert rivers.
The air breathing marine reptiles were top of the food chain in the Jurassic and Cretaceous seas, though remains of these creatures within the world Heritage Site are only found in the Jurassic sediments. Plesiosaurs had four flippers attached to each corner of its body enabling it to swim like a turtle and its long neck allowed it to hunt in-between the boulders of rocky reefs. Although these creatures grew up to 14 meters in length, finding the skeleton of a whole specimen is rare as the skull has often detached from the rest of the body, but finding teeth and individual vertebrae from the neck and spine are relatively common discoveries. The first near complete specimen of a Plesiosaur was found by Mary Anning in 1824. At first her piers scoffed at the existence of such a creature, but once the fossil remains had been examined, she gained respect amongst the scientific society.