201 – 145 million years ago

During the Jurassic, the fringes of Scotland lay beneath a shallow, warm sea, with the more mountainous regions remaining above sea level. However the sea level did fluctuate, and there were times when the sea covered much more of the land. Scotland at this time lay at a latitude of around 40°N (similar to Greece today), and the climate was warm to sub-tropical.

Scotland hasn’t always been on the same postion on the face of the Earth and has not always had the same outline. This map shows how ‘Scotland’ may have looked during the Jurassic. Scotland’s present outline has been drawn on the map to help you visualise where the Jurassic rocks that we find today were formed in relation to the surrounding continent and seas.

The warm sea was full of life, including shellfish, corals, ammonites, belemnites and marine reptiles such as icthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. Many of these Jurassic sea creatures are now extinct. Sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, limestone and mudstone were formed from the sediments laid down on the seabed and the remains of much of the sea life was preserved as fossils in these rocks.

Dinosaurs roamed the landmasses of Scotland. In most cases though, when land-living animals die, their remains are not preserved, as the conditions are not right for fossilisation. As a result, few fossilised dinosaur bones and footprints have been found in Scotland. However, there has been evidence of dinosaurs found on the Isle of Skye where lagoon conditions, an ideal environment for some dinosaurs, and the preservation of their remains, existed.

* This map is a schematic reconstruction of what Scotland MAY have looked like at a particular point during the Jurassic – it is only a representation of Scotland’s ancient palaegeography, not the most accurate scientific palaeogeographic reconstruction. (c) Image reproduced by kind permission of The trustees National Museums Scotland