It is the largest and most complete of the skeletons of a Temnodontosaurus trigonodon discovered to date and the first of this species to be found in England.
The skeleton is around 10 meters long and its skull weighs around a ton.
The beast lived in this region about 180 million years ago. His remains were discovered by two employees of the nature reserve.
I had already found skeletons of whales and dolphins. We first discovered what unmistakably looked like a spine and then something that looked like a jawbone. We couldn’t believe it, said in a statement Paul Trevor, an agent of the reserve.
Our discovery is a real highlight of my career! It’s great to think that this amazing creature once swam in the seas above us, adds his colleague Joe Davis.
Ichthyosaurs appeared around 250 million years ago and died out 90 million years ago. They are marine reptiles ranging in size from 1m to over 25m in length and the general body shape resembling that of dolphins.
The excavations were led by four paleontologists, including Dean Lomax of the University of Manchester, a world expert on ichthyosaurs. Dr Lomax has studied thousands of ichthyosaurs and named five new species.
Great Britain is the birthplace of the ichthyosaurs. […] Of the many ichthyosaur fossils found in Britain, it is remarkable that the Rutland ichthyosaur is the largest skeleton ever found in the UK. It is a truly unprecedented find and one of the greatest discoveries in British paleontological history., he said in the press release.
The team of paleontologists will now study the fossilized remains and publish scientific papers on the subject in the coming years.
Ichthyosaurs evolved from an earthly ancestor. They lived exclusively in water. Over 100 species have been discovered all over the world.
The very first ichthyosaur was discovered in Dorset, on the Channel coast, in 1811 and 1812, by Mary and Joseph Anning.
Some specimens have even been found with unborn cubs still inside them.
The size and completeness of the Rutland Water specimen will identify other large, but much less complete ichthyosaurs discovered in the UK and already in museums.