The British scientists have found a rare 180 million-year-old “sea dragon” fossil after a lagoon at the Rutland Water Nature Reserve was drained, 9News reported.
The fossil, believed to be the most enormous and complete skeleton found to date of its kind in the UK, was discovered by Joe Davis, Conservation Team Leader at Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.
According to scientists, the 10-meter long fossil is identified as an ichthyosaur, which first appeared around 250 million years ago and went extinct 90 million years ago.
The ichthyosaur was among a group of marine reptiles that resembled dolphins in shape, with lengths between one and more than 25 meters.
A team of expert paleontologists in the UK, led by ichthyosaur expert Dr. Dean Lomax, carefully excavated the skeleton’s remains in August and September last year.
“It was an honor to lead the excavation,” said Lomax, who has studied thousands of ichthyosaurs and named five new species in the process.
“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,” he continued. “It is a truly unprecedented discovery and one of the greatest finds in British palaeontological history.”
In his statement, Conservation Team Leader Joe Davis said that “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, and now once again Rutland Water is a haven for wetland wildlife albeit on a smaller scale.”
Two incomplete and much smaller ichthyosaurs were previously found during the initial construction of Rutland Water in the 1970s.