Remember all those times you read about dragons in storybooks or saw them on TV, and wondered what it would be like if they really existed? Well, now you don’t need to wonder — they’re real. Actually, they were real.
Researchers in the UK have found the fossilised remains of a giant ichthyosaur, dating back 180 million years. Commonly known as ‘sea dragons’, these ancient creatures were 10 metres long and had bodies similar to dolphins.
Joe Davis, who works at Rutland Water Nature Reserve, was working on a landscaping project at the reserve’s reservoir in February of 2021. He stumbled across what looked like a large piece of bone poking out of the mud. Davis then called up the local authorities, who further investigated it and found it to be a colossal vertebrae.
An excavation team of palaeontologists was called in and they concluded it to be an ichthyosaur, a warm-blooded predator of the sea that lived 250 million to 90 million years ago. While this particular specimen was 10 metres long, these creatures are believed to have grown up to 25 metres long — roughly the size of a blue whale.
What makes this an exceptional find is the completeness of the fossil, say researchers. This is the largest, complete fossil found in the UK so far, so much so that the palaeontologists paid special attention while extracting the head, which weighed about a tonne. What makes it even more interesting is the location where they found it. Researchers say ichthyosaurs could be usually found off the coast of Yorkshire, but this one was found inland, approximately 50 kilometres away from the sea.
The team is currently studying it further and working on restoring it for public viewing.
What do you think the ichthyosaur was doing so far away from the depths of the sea, 90 million years ago? Let us know in the comments.
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