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Palaeontology

Gargantuan prehistoric marine reptile was largest ever to swim in the sea

By T.K. Randall
April 19, 2024 · Comment icon 3 comments
Giant Ichthyosaur
This ichthyosaur species was truly massive. Image Credit: CC BY 4.0 Sergey Krasovskiy
Paleontologists have identified a huge species of ichthyosaur from fossils found on a British beach.
The remarkable discovery was made back in 2016 by an amateur fossil hunter who had been scouring the shoreline in Somerset, England when he came across a fossilized jawbone.

It turned out that the jawbone belonged to an absolutely enormous species of ichthyosaur - a type of marine reptile that frequented the prehistoric seas around 200 million years ago.

The fossil find was particularly significant because this was not only the single largest ichthyosaur species ever found, but also the largest type of marine reptile of any kind.
At the time of the discovery, it had been difficult to determine the exact size of the creature without more fossils, but then in 2020, a father and daughter who had been exploring the same stretch of coastline came across another jawbone belonging to the same species.

"I was massively impressed - really, really excited," said University of Bristol paleontologist Dr Dean Lomax.

"I knew that right at that point we had a second giant jawbone from one of these massive ichthyosaurs."

"Based on the size of the jawbones - one of them over a meter long and the other two meters long - we can work out that the entire animal would have been about 25m long, about as long as a blue whale."

Source: BBC News | Comments (3)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by pellinore 1 month ago
To put things into a bit of perspective, although some dinosaurs were huge, and some land mammals like the giant sloths were whoppers, and the Moa and the Haast's Eagle would have kept a KFC in meat for a year, these ichthyosaurs were not the largest sea creatures to have existed- they were tiddlers compared to the largest mammal that ever existed- and it is still alive and well! Probably the biggest mystery of all is why we haven't hunted the blue whale to extinction, like most animals which are interesting and curious.
Comment icon #2 Posted by quiXilver 1 month ago
Wow, what a find! Thanks for sharing.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Antigonos 1 month ago
The article states that in life the specimens of the new ichthyosaur species would have been larger than the giant pliosaur recently found in the Dorset cliffside.  25 meters, or roughly 75 feet long. That’s an awesome marine reptile. Early paleontologists would be blown away by a discovery like this.


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