Exceptional 180-Million-Year-Old Giant Sea Dragon Fossil Unearthed

Fossil of 180-Million-Year-Old Giant Sea Dragon Unearthed [Video]

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • A 32-foot-long skeleton of an ichthyosaur, also known as a sea dragon, has been unearthed at a U.K. nature reserve.
  • The first few pieces of the skeleton were first discovered in February during a routine maintenance.
  • Researchers believe it is “the biggest and most complete” sea dragon fossil found in U.K. history.

Fossilized remains of an ichthyosaur, also known as a sea dragon, have been unearthed in the U.K. Scientists have deemed it “the biggest and most complete” find of such in the country’s history.

 

 

Believed to be about 180 million years old, the first few pieces of the 32-foot-long skeleton were first unearthed at the Rutland Water Nature Reserve in February during a routine maintenance.

Team leader Joe Davis started draining water from the lagoon when he spotted a vertebrae in the mud, according to the press release from Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

Davis said, “The find has been absolutely fascinating and a real career highlight, it’s great to learn so much from the discovery and to think that this amazing creature was once swimming in seas above us.”

Lead excavator and ichthyosaur expert Dean Lomax called the specimen’s size and completeness “truly exceptional.” He told CNN that the previously unearthed sea dragon fossils in the U.K. were “nowhere near as complete and as large as this.”

The excavation started in August and was completed in two months, with the cooperation of a team of paleontologists, Anglian Water, Rutland County Council, and Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

Anglian Water’s spokeswoman, Regan Harris, told CNN, “It was just mind blowing. I mean, you kind of couldn’t really believe your eyes when you were looking at it in front of you. But yeah, incredible.”

The remains will still need to be treated by a specialist paleontological conservator for the next 12-18 months before it can be put on display for the public.

Paul Barrett, a merit researcher in the Earth Sciences Vertebrates and Anthropology Palaeobiology department at the Natural History Museum in London, called the find “one of the most impressive marine fossil discoveries from the U.K. that I can remember at least in the last 20 to 30 years or so.”

Barrett added that it was “probably one of the largest fossil reptiles ever found, including dinosaurs.”

Researchers believe it is the first fossil of the species Temnodontosaurus trigonodon found in Britain.

Ichthyosaurs are believed to have first appeared around 250 million years ago during the Jurassic Period and went extinct around 90 million years ago, according to a report from the Washington Post.

 

Source: PEOPLE

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