Paleontologists Discovered The Biggest and Most Complete ‘Sea Dragon’ Fossil in England

In a unique discovery, The remains of a monstrous, 33-foot-long (10 meters) “sea dragon” that swam in the seas when dinosaurs were alive some 180 million years ago have been unearthed on a nature reserve in England.

It is the biggest and most complete skeleton of its kind found to date in the UK and is also thought to be the first ichthyosaur of its species (called Temnodontosaurus trigonodon) found in the country.

Ichthyosaurs first appeared around 250 million years ago and went extinct 90 million years ago. They were an extraordinary group of marine reptiles that varied in size from 1 to more than 25 metres in length, and resembled dolphins in general body shape.

An unprecedented discovery

Although many such ichthyosaurs have been found in the UK, none have been of the size of the current find, “It is a truly unprecedented discovery and one of the greatest finds in British palaeontological history,” excavation leader Dean Lomax, a paleontologist and visiting scientist at the University of Manchester, said in a statement

Davis was walking across a drained lagoon with Paul Trevor, who also works on the reserve for the trust, when he saw what appeared to be clay pipes sticking out of the mud and remarked to Trevor that they looked like vertebrae. Davis was familiar with sea creature bones, having previously found whale and dolphin skeletons while working on the Hebrides, a series of islands off northwest Scotland.

“We followed what indisputably looked like a spine and Paul [Trevor] discovered something further along that could have been a jawbone,” Davis said. “We couldn’t quite believe it.”

Archaeologists excavated the fossil between August and September in 2021. The discovery will be featured on a British television series called “Digging for Britain,” which airs in the U.K. on Tuesday (Jan. 11) on BBC Two.

However, archaeologists are still studying and preserving the ichthyosaur, and scientific papers on the discovery will be published in the future, although no time frame has been set for this.