Record-size 'sea dragon' rediscovered in museum collection

Woah! A crazy discovery in the least expected place.
By Jackie Flores | Aug 30, 2017
As paleontologist Dean Lomax of the University of Manchester in the UK said on confirming that a fossil on display at a museum in Hanover, Germany, was the largest Ichthyosaurus, or 'sea dragon,' ever found: "You don't necessarily have to go out in the field to make a new discovery."

The fossil was first spotted at the Hanover museum by paleontologist Sven Sachs, according to BBC News. He then got in touch with Lomax, who is an expert on Ichthyosaurs.

The reptile, dating to the Jurassic period, belongs to the species Ichthyosaurus somersetensis named after England's southwest county of Somerset where many remains of the ancient marine creatures have been discovered. It was unearthed in the 1990s at Doniford Bay, Somerset, and ultimately ended up in the Lower Saxony State Museum in Hanover.

The record-breaking specimen, which measures more than 11 feet (3.5 meters) long, is of a remarkably well-preserved female Ichthyosaur that is not only remarkably well-preserved, but also contains the remains of a developing fetus.

"It amazes me that specimens such as this can still be 'rediscovered' in museum collections," said Lomax, in a statement, as reported by Gizmodo. "You don't necessarily have to go out in the field to make a new discovery. This specimen provides new insight into the size range of the species, but also records only the third example of an Ichthyosaurus known with an embryo. That's special."

Ichthyosaurs were dolphin-like marine reptiles that died out about 90 million years ago. Not true dinosaurs, they roamed the planet long before the emergence of their more ferocious cousins and, like mammals, gave birth to live young.

The study is published in the journal Acta Paleontologica Polonica.


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