A 32-foot ‘Sea Dragon’ fossil was discovered in London during routine maintenance at a nature reserve in January 2021, according to NBC News.
Dr. Dean Lomax, who led the excavation of the Jurassic ichthyosaur fossil, revealed Monday that the specimen was the largest in Britain’s history. The Jurassic-era reptile was excavated by a team composed of volunteers and paleontologists over the course of 3 weeks.
“The BIGGEST, most complete skeleton of a prehistoric reptile EVER found in Britain is going to be a tough act to follow!” Lomax wrote on Twitter.
The BIGGEST, most complete skeleton of a prehistoric reptile EVER found in Britain is going to be a tough act to follow!
I thoroughly enjoyed bringing the cameras along for the excavation and I’m even more excited to bring this jaw-dropping palaeo discovery into your homes! pic.twitter.com/kFltuqosSt
— Dr Dean Lomax (@Dean_R_Lomax) January 10, 2022
The 180 million-year-old Ichthyosaur fossil is over 32 feet long with a 6-foot skull that weighs nearly a ton, NBC News reported. The ichthyosaur, a dolphin-like apex predator, went extinct nearly 90 million years ago. (Well-Preserved Fossilized Dinosaur Egg Leaves Scientists Baffled)
“The first ichthyosaurs found in the Jurassic Period were a couple of meters long, between five and 10 feet, whereas this ichthyosaur, and others that have been found but are less complete, are the first that are real Jurassic giants,” Lomax added, according to NBC News.
Joe Davis of the Anglian Water and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust discovered the specimen while doing landscaping work on the reserve, according to the New Scientist. Davis noted that he was “very lucky” to have found something that some people spend “their entire lives looking for.”