Home » Giant fossil from 180 million years in the past reveals ‘sea dragon’ with 1-ton skull

Giant fossil from 180 million years in the past reveals ‘sea dragon’ with 1-ton skull

Giant fossil from 180 million years ago reveals 'sea dragon' with 1-ton skull

A person future to the unearthed “sea dragon” fossil.

Matthew Electricity/Anglian H2o

In February 2021, Joe Davis, chief of the UK’s Rutland Conservation Workforce, was routinely draining a lagoon island for re-landscaping on the grounds he manages. To his shock, a few odd-seeking clay pipes protruded from the mud. On closer inspection, he understood they were not pipes at all. They had been vertebrae. 

“We adopted what indisputably appeared like a spine,” Davis reported in a statement. Then, alongside with reserves officer Paul Trevor, Davis states he identified a little something that could have been a jawbone. “We could not really think it.”

Soon, the duo would appear to fully grasp they’d stumbled upon a 180-million-year-outdated, 32-foot (10 meter) ichthyosaur, often referred to as a sea dragon, with a 2,000-pound (1 ton) cranium. 

Opposite to their title, these historical beings were not dinosaurs. Rather, all species classified as ichthyosaurs have been aquatic creatures, distantly connected to lizards, with an uncanny resemblance to dolphins. Having said that, they were being most considerable for the duration of the Triassic and Jurassic intervals, about 251 million to 145.5 million years back, so they did stay along with our dinosaur pals.

Experts have discovered fossils of these swimming giants in the past, this sort of as the 1st a single at any time uncovered in the mid-1800s by British paleontologist Mary Anning and two more compact, incomplete skeletons analyzed in the 1970s interestingly, the latter pair had been located in the exact same Rutland H2o nature reserve as the recently unearthed sea dragon. Even so, in accordance to the assertion introduced Monday, the freshly found out Ichthyosaur, identified as “Rutland Sea Dragon,” is “the most important and most entire skeleton of its type uncovered to date in the Uk” and “the to start with ichthyosaur of its species found in the region.”

Led by Dean Lomax, a globe qualified in ichthyosaurs, a team of paleontologists expended the very last 12 months or so excavating the large fossilized stays. “It was an honor to guide the excavation,” Lomax reported. “Britain is the birthplace of ichthyosaurs — their fossils have been unearthed right here for around 200 a long time with the to start with scientific dating again to Mary Anning and her discoveries alongside the Jurassic Coastline.”

“It is a genuinely unprecedented discovery,” Lomax extra, “and one particular of the greatest finds in British paleontological history.”