HomeNewsMassive ‘Sea Dragon’ Fossil Uncovered in the UK: VIDEO

Massive ‘Sea Dragon’ Fossil Uncovered in the UK: VIDEO

by Michael Freeman
(Photo by Holger Hollemann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Finding a fossil is always something to be celebrated, but even more so when it’s immaculately preserved. UK researchers experienced that joy recently, finding a massive “sea dragon” fossil in amazing condition.

CNN reports paleontologists discovered a 180 million-year-old ichthyosaur fossil in the UK, making it one of the most significant finds there. Found in a Rutland county reservoir in the English East Midlands, it’s the largest, most complete ichthyosaur fossil discovered. Measuring 33 feet in length, it includes an intact skull weighing in at one ton. Further, its species, temnodontosaurus trigonodon, has never been found in Britain before now. Reuters posted a video of the find, so you can actually see what it looks like.

Joe Davis leads a conservation team from Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife and Trust. It operates a nature reserve in conjunction with owner Anglian Water. Davis first unearthed the ichthyosaur while doing routine re-landscaping work. This process involves draining the water in the lagoon, which is when he spotted parts of the fossil’s vertebrae sticking out of the mud. This prompted paleontologists to excavate in August and September last year, leading to the incredible find.

Dean Lornax is an ichthyosaur expert that led the paleontologists during their excavation and relayed his happiness to CNN. “The size and the completeness together is what makes it truly exceptional,” Lomax told the outlet. Additionally, he noted other finds were “nowhere near as complete and as large as this.”

The good news doesn’t stop coming though, Lomax stated. Noting it was the “tip of the iceberg,” he says there is much to discover. In fact, it appears the predator’s last meal may still be preserved, not to mention the reptile may have been pregnant.

Ichthyosaur Fossil Origins and About the Reptile

Ichthyosaur enthusiasts are a lucky group of people lately. With researchers discovering such a pristine specimen, it may have you wondering how it was first discovered and what the reptile was like.

According to LiveScience, researchers first found ichthyosaur fossils in 1998, embedded in Augusta Mountain rocks in Nevada. However, it wasn’t until 2015 researchers could actually do something about it, associate professor of biology at Scripps College Lars Schmitz stated. According to him, only a few vertebrae were visible at first and it wasn’t until a helicopter assisted paleontologists in 2015 they discovered what it was.

Researchers state it lived 247 million years ago during the Triassic period. Schmitz also explained it was a “sea-dragon-like animal: streamlined body, quite long, with limbs modified to fins, and a long tail.” Growing up to 55 feet in length and living in the Panthalassic Ocean, or “superocean,” it was an apex predator. The giant reptile likely ate squid, fish, and even smaller ichthyosaurs.