Date:

Rutland sea dragon is one of Britain’s greatest palaeontological discoveries

The fossil of a giant ichthyosaur from around 180 million years ago has been discovered at the Rutland Water reservoir in the East Midlands of England.

The specimen was discovered by the Rutland Wildlife Trust during works to drain a lagoon island in the reservoir for landscaping. Rutland’s bedrock is entirely Jurassic in age and spans the period between about 195 and 160 million years ago, with the oldest rocks in the southwest and the youngest in the west.

- Advertisement -

Measuring around ten metres in length, the fossil is the largest and most complete ichthyosaur ever found in the UK. Previous smaller and incomplete ichthyosaur were found during the reservoirs construction in the 1970’s, but the latest discovery is the first complete specimen.

ang1
Image Credit : Anglian Water

Ichthyosaurs thrived during much of the Mesozoic era, first appearing around 250 million years ago, until their extinction 90 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous period.

After reporting the fossil to the local council and Dr Mark Evans of the British Antarctic Survey, a team of palaeontologists was assembled from around the UK, and the fragile remains of the huge skeleton were carefully excavated in August and September of 2021.

Dr Evans said: ““It was only after our exploratory dig that we realised that it was practically complete to the tip of the tail. It’s a highly significant discovery both nationally and internationally but also of huge importance to the people of Rutland and the surrounding area.”

- Advertisement -

The researchers hope that the completeness of the fossil will help in further identifying other less complete ichthyosaur specimens found in museums archives across the UK.

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

 

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 8,000 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Pyramid of the Moon marked astronomical orientation axis of Teōtīhuacān

Teōtīhuacān, loosely translated as "birthplace of the gods," is an ancient Mesoamerican city situated in the Teotihuacan Valley, Mexico.

Anglo-Saxon cemetery discovered in Malmesbury

Archaeologists have discovered an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the grounds of the Old Bell Hotel in Malmesbury, England.

Musket balls from “Concord Fight” found in Massachusetts

Archaeologists have unearthed five musket balls fired during the opening battle of the Revolutionary War at Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, United States.

3500-year-old ritual table found in Azerbaijan

Archaeologists from the University of Catania have discovered a 3500-year-old ritual table with the ceramic tableware still in...

Archaeologists unearth 4,000-year-old temple complex

Archaeologists from the University of Siena have unearthed a 4,000-year-old temple complex on Cyprus.

Rare cherubs made by master mason discovered at Visegrád Castle

A pair of cherubs made by the Renaissance master, Benedetto da Maiano, have been discovered in the grounds of Visegrád Castle.

Archaeologists discover ornately decorated Tang Dynasty tomb

Archaeologists have discovered an ornately decorated tomb from the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) during excavations in China’s Shanxi Province.

Archaeologists map the lost town of Rungholt

Rungholt was a medieval town in North Frisia, that according to local legend, was engulfed by the sea during the Saint Marcellus's flood in 1362.