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Palaeontology

Prehistoric 'sea monster' was truly gigantic

April 10, 2018 | Comment icon 11 comments



Skull of Shonisaurus - another large ichthyosaur. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Machairo
Scientists have found the fossil remains of an ichthyosaur that was almost the size of a blue whale.
The blue whale's status as the largest creature to have ever lived on planet Earth may be in jeopardy following the discovery of a truly enormous species of prehistoric ichthyosaur.

These dolphin-like marine reptiles, which lived alongside the dinosaurs, first appeared around 250 million years ago and survived up until around 90 million years ago.

While some ichthyosaurs were known to have reached significant sizes, this newly discovered species, which was unearthed in southwestern England, is the largest yet.
Measuring a whopping 85ft in length, it was a true monster of the prehistoric seas.

Its discovery could also indicate the possible existence of other, even larger ichthyosaurs.

"As soon as I saw it in person, my jaw just hit the floor," said marine reptile experts Dean Lomax. "I realized this was a giant ichthyosaur and the biggest thing ever found in the UK."



Source: National Geographic | Comments (11)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Tom the Photon 4 years ago
Palaeontology rocks! They find the tiniest fraction of a single vertebra and from that they extrapolate a new huge species of ichthyosaur. Anyone would think they're exaggerating just to make headlines...
Comment icon #3 Posted by Grignr 4 years ago
Or in this case where they found most of the jawbone of a recognisable species and worked out the size of animal that would have been needed to support that jaw. I guess the question is what's more likely, that there were enough examples of animals of this size that one was able to be fossilised. Or that one overgrown/mutant example happened to be the one in several million example to be caught in that process.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Podo 4 years ago
It's not just a guess though. You can look at a bone and know that the other bones attached to it would need to be a similar size. It's not as though a tiny critter is going to have a jaw the size of the one in the article.
Comment icon #5 Posted by jmccr8 4 years ago
you never met my ex jmccr8
Comment icon #6 Posted by Sameerr 4 years ago
I never believed that the blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on this planet. When there are fossils of giant animals, i always thought there might be some animal which could rival or slightly surpass the blue whale in size. Some people use to say that there is a limit in certain animals size and then you know that is not the case as later you get to know the fossils of similar species being bigger. You can't just say that is science etc etc because nature creates massive animals which is out of your math. Now coming back to the story. After reading that this new ichthyosaur was almo... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Black Monk 4 years ago
The word "icthyosaur" was coined by British palaeontolgist Sir Richard Owen in 1840, who went on to coin the word "dinosaur" in 1842. In 1811, in Lyme Regis, along what is now called the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, the first complete ichthyosaur skull was found by Joseph Anning, the brother of Mary Anning, who in 1812 while still a young girl, secured the torso of the same specimen. Their mother, Molly Anning, sold the combined piece to squire Henry Henley for £23. Henley lent the fossil to the London Museum of Natural History of William Bullock. When this museum was closed, the British Museum b... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Black Monk 4 years ago
It's merely the largest known animal.
Comment icon #9 Posted by ChaosRose 4 years ago
How I feel whenever I can't see the bottom.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Sameerr 4 years ago
Yes, it's just many people always say that the blue whale is the largest animal that ever lived and i have seen it several times. Largest known animal is correct but they always use the word 'ever'.  Search it and you will find many sites mention the blue whale as the largest animal ever.
Comment icon #11 Posted by oldrover 4 years ago
Me too. 


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