A HOLIDAYMAKER discovered a rare mammoth tooth fossil on a Dorset beach.

Chris Gasson, 35, from Eastbourne, was spending a week-long holiday in Chideock with his wife Kerry and six-week-old baby Mabel when he visited Seatown beach to do some fishing.

The builder found the tooth just below the tide line, first dismissing it as part of an oyster shell.

The mammoth tooth, which is estimated to be between 12,000 and 15,000 years old, measures 80mm wide by 150mm tall.

Mr Gasson said: “I just stumbled across it when I was going fishing.

“When I first saw it I thought it was just a fossil, but I took it back to the bed and breakfast we were stopping at in Chideock, and the owner told me to take it to local museums because she thought it was a mammoth tooth.

“I took it to the palaeontologist in Charmouth and he confirmed it as one.

“It was a bit of a shock really, I know they are not found here often so it took me by surprise.

“I don’t have any real plans for it at the moment, I think I’ll just put it in a glass case on my mantelpiece or maybe donate it to the Charmouth heritage centre.”

Paddy Howe, geologist at Lyme Regis Museum, said he has been working as a geologist for 12 years and this discovery marks the first one he has ever heard of in Dorset.

He added: “This find is incredibly uncommon for West Dorset, I am aware that a mammoth tooth was found in Devon recently.

“The tooth is estimated to be 15,000 years old, which is a lot younger than the 200 million year old fossils we usually find – but the find is incredibly rare.”

Palaeontologist at Charmouth Heritage Centre Phil Davidson, identified the find as a mammoth tooth but said complete confirmation will come from experts at the Natural History Museum.

He added: “It was certainly a very rare find, the last time someone brought in a similar item to the centre was more than 20 years ago.

“The find will also be recorded on the West Dorset fossil collecting code which keeps a record of all the rare items found in the area.”