When cider brandy maker Julian Temperley was a child, there was a hidden secret in the family’s back yard that was a source of his fascination. It was a Jurassic fossil that his ancestors had kept buried in the garden since they’d discovered it in 1850. However, Temperley has finally decided to showcase the specimen after nearly 170 years. And he has revealed the startling reason his forefathers kept it under cover.
The fossil Temperley’s family discovered in their lime quarry in Langport, Somerset, was a 90 million-year-old ichthyosaurus fossil. This marine reptile existed around Europe and Asia during the end of the Triassic and early Jurassic periods. Scientists believe that the creature was once a land mammal and eventually evolved into an aquatic predator during the latter period.
“Whenever we visited Somerset as kids, we dug it up and were generally amazed,” Temperley recalled to AOL in September 2019. However, the fossil was something his ancestors wanted to keep secret after they unearthed it in the 19th century. You see, they had a fascinating reason for why they didn’t want anyone to know about the discovery.
Temperley’s ancestors had found the fossil only a few years before renowned biologist Charles Darwin published his groundbreaking Theory of Evolution in 1859. The former added, “You have to remember that fossils weren’t really explained until Darwin came along. Up until then, if you believed in fossils you were denying the Bible saying God created Day One, and so on.” So as a result, Temperley’s Christian forefathers decided to keep the discovery hidden over fears the fossil would be “denying God.”
Temperley told AOL that he’d watched a TV show about nature historian David Attenborough digging ichthyosaurus fossils with collector Chris Moore. As a result, Temperley took his specimen to Moore to have it cleaned, and he was told by the collector that “it was one of the best he’d ever seen.” Today, it hangs on the wall of Temperley’s distillery, and he plans to honor the fossil with an imprint on his next 20-year-old batch of cider brandy.