Giant 180-Million-Year-Old, 10-Metre Long ‘Sea Dragon’ Skeleton Found In England

Scientists have described the findings as “one of the greatest finds in British paleontological history.”

The fossilised skeleton of a 180-million-year-old “sea dragon” has been discovered in the Midlands.

Joe Davis, of Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, unearthed the remains whilst draining a lagoon island at Rutland Water in February last year.

The Rutland ichthyosaur is believed to be 180 million years old and is the most complete and largest fossil of its kind eve to be found in the UK.

The skeleton measured approximately 10 metres in length, and its skull weighs one tonne.

Throughout August and September, expert palaeontologists dug the 10 metre skeleton out.

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Dr Dean Lomax, a palaeontologist who has studied ichthyosaurs, said: “Despite the many ichthyosaur fossils found in Britain, it is remarkable to think that the Rutland ichthyosaur is the largest skeleton ever found in the UK.

“It is a truly unprecedented discovery and one of the greatest finds in British paleontological history.”

The species, known as sea dragons due to their enormous teeth and eyes, first appeared approximately 250-million-years-ago, and have been extinct for 90 million years.

Other ichthyosaurs have been discovered across the UK since the 1800s. In fact, two other much smaller and incomplete ichthyosaurs were found at Rutland Water in the 1970s.

Giant 180-Million-Year-Old, 10-Metre Long ‘Sea Dragon’ Skeleton Found In England
The Ichthyosaur fossil at Rutland Water (Image: PA)

Dr Mark Evans of the British Antarctic Survey said: “When I first saw the initial exposure of the specimen with Joe Davis I could tell that it was the largest ichthyosaur known from either county.

He added: “It’s a highly significant discovery both nationally and internationally but also of huge importance to the people of Rutland and the surrounding area.”

Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles, and varied in size from 1 metre, to over 25. The species resembled dolphins in their body shape and are believed to have lived in herds.

Giant 180-Million-Year-Old, 10-Metre Long ‘Sea Dragon’ Skeleton Found In England
What a Ichthyosaur is believed to have looked like (Image: PA)

Nigel Larkin, a specialist paleontological conservator, said: “It’s not often you are responsible for safely lifting a very important but very fragile fossil weighing that much.

“It is a responsibility, but I love a challenge. It was a very complex operation to uncover, record, and collect this important specimen safely.”

Giant 180-Million-Year-Old, 10-Metre Long ‘Sea Dragon’ Skeleton Found In England
The excavation work at Rutland Water (Image: PA)

The excavation will feature on BBC Two’s Digging for Britain, which airs on Tuesday 11 January, at 8pm.

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Five Canoes Discovered Northwest of Rome Are The Oldest Boats Ever Found In The Mediterranean

For more than 30 years, one of Italy’s most well-hidden archaeological treasures has been an underwater village called La Marmotta.

The site, with well-preserved artefacts, was discovered in 1989 in a lake just northwest of Rome and 23 miles upstream from the Mediterranean Sea. Found among its wooden buildings were five canoes, stretching up to 32 feet long and made from hollowed-out trees. Estimated to be 7,000 years old, the boats showed signs of being equipped with advanced maritime technology, including towing accessories and reinforcements.

Because the original discovery of La Marmotta had only ever been published in the Italian language, widespread study of the canoes and their place in history remained limited. But now that a team of international researchers revisited the site and published their findings in English in the journal PLOS One, scientists around the world are learning about the boats for the first time—and the bustling, sophisticated Mediterranean trade they suggest.

Continue reading …

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READ MORE: Antediluvian Period: What Was The World Like Before The Flood

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