A fossil that was found back in May 2016 on the coast of Lilstock, Somerset actually belongs to a 205-million-year-old prehistoric reptile called ichthyosaur. It was one of the largest animals on Earth, according to a new study on the fossil which the journal PLOS One recently published. The fossil was actually a jawbone that, according to experts, belonged to a giant ichthyosaur which might have measured about 85 feet in length. This is almost as big as a blue whale, the largest animals living now on our planet.
As for these giant reptiles, they roamed the seas during the dinosaur age. According to collector Paul de la Salle, who is also the co-author of this study, they initially thought that the fossil was a rock. However, after recognizing what it actually was, they knew they stumbled upon something big, literally. Upon analyzing the bone, experts Dean Lomax and Judy Massare realized that the bone was actually incomplete and that it came from the lower jaw of an ichthyosaur. The previously considered largest ichthyosaur specimen is now at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of paleontology in Alberta, Canada. They compared the size of their jaws and found that the new dinosaur must have been even bigger.
Jawbone of a giant dinosaur, discovered
Even if it’s difficult to come up with a size estimation based only on the jaw, the team established that the new specimen was about 25% larger than the one in Canada. But the newly-published paper talks about something even more interesting.
According to the authors, an 1850 fossil found in the nearby village of Aust, Gloucestershire could belong to an even larger specimen. There are some bone fragments in that area which experts think might have come from a bigger ichthyosaur. The next step is to find out if that is indeed the case.
Image source: wikimedia