Sea Dragon: 180-Million-Year-Old Fossil of a Giant Sea Creature Discovered in the UK
Scientists have discovered a large sea creature’s fossilised remains from the bottom of a lagoon in England. Colloquially referred to as sea dragon, it is the only most complete fossil of the ancient sea creature obtained from the UK.
The remains of the ichthyosaur—large extinct marine reptiles—were found in the Rutland Water Nature Reserve. A wetland conservationist named Joe Davis made this surprise discovery while conducting routine draining of a lagoon island for re-landscaping.
Joe and his colleague noticed something like vertebrae poking out of the mud. Immediately, a team of palaeontologists were called on to carry out excavations to remove the large specimen in August and September 2021.
The fossil is thought to be the UK’s first ichthyosaur of its species called Temnodontosaurus trigonodon. The creature was found covered in clay-rich rocks, which researchers estimate was deposited around 180 million years ago (early Jurassic period).
“Our specimen, the Rutland Ichthyosaur or the Rutland Sea Dragon, is the biggest complete ichthyosaur ever found in Britain in over 200 years of collecting these things scientifically,” says palaeontologist Dr Dean Lomax who led the excavation.
This creature was contemporary to the land-dwelling dinosaurs. With massive teeth and eyes and a large snout, its body features resemble modern-day dolphins. The specimen measures nearly 33 feet in length, with the weight of the skull around one tonne.
Should we all be fossil hunters?
Yes. Every discovery, however small, adds to the store of human knowledge, and we can never know too much about the past. Fossils remind us that our own history is short by comparison.
No. We do not get anywhere by looking backwards all the time. It is the people who are more focused on the future who come up with the inventions that drive human progress.
Vertebrae- The bones that make up the backbone. Dinosaur -The difference between dinosaurs and reptiles is not always clear-cut, but dinosaurs were generally two-legged creatures which walked upright. Ichthyosaur- The name combines the Greek words for fish and lizard, though in fact the creature is neither. Palaeontological- Palaeontology is the study of life on earth based on fossil remains. Pterodactyl- A flying reptile with a long head and neck. Piltdown Man -The “find” consisted of five fragments of skull which had been stained to make them look old.