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The 7ft Fossil of Prehistoric Marine Reptile Has Been Discovered by Amateur Fossil Hunter on a South Wales Beach

ichthyosaur fossil

Image credit: Jonathan Bow/Wales Online

When wandering along a beautiful and rocky beach in the southern part of Wales, a computer programmer, who was interested in hunting for fossil, came across a skeleton of an ancient, predatory reptile which was seven feet long. It was thought to swim in the oceans from the Jurassic to the Cretaceous period. As such specimen was quite complete; it was believed by experts that this unusual discovery should be even more remarkable.

The location where such fossil was discovered was Penarth beach, Glamorgan in Wales, which was characteristic of the abundance and rich variety of specimens unearthed so far, so a lot of fossil collectors came here to try their luck. Jonathan Bow, a long-time fossil amateur aged 34 years old, had fortunately made this rare discovery.

At first Bow saw a small piece of the skeleton just one inch in size and then he found it to be exposed on a changing tide in September. With nearly a full day work, Bow and his brother had uncovered the rest of the specimen. During this process, the impressive size of the specimen got to be gradually obvious, and in his description, he called it as a “whopper.”

After removal of the quite large amount stone surrounding the fossil, Bow and his brother found that the fossil weighed some 60 kilograms in total. When they finished the intensive uncovering process, Bow immediately informed the National Museum of Wales of his discovery. Shortly after it, paleontologists came to realize its potential importance, because the fossil had been so well-preserved.

It is believed that the skeleton is classified in an ancient group of marine vertebrates known as ichthyosaurs, meaning “fish lizards.” Since its discovery in the early 19th century, nearly 80 different species of ichthyosaur have been described with more to be added to the extensive list every year.

Although such animals were not dinosaurs, they did roam in the oceans of Earth when dinosaurs dominated the land. They made their first appearances in the Triassic period, with the peak diversity during the Jurassic, before perished during the Cretaceous period- some 25 million years before dinosaurs were dying out.

As for how ichthyosaurs had evolved from, there exist   many controversies over it, because the earliest versions had many lizard-like characters, therefore many people believed that the land vertebrate had possibly evolved from kind of lizard. Since early ichthyosaurs had necks as well as long, slender bodies, they could probably swim through the ocean, just like eels in modern times. Later such animals were quickly  diversified into a much more streamlined form in which they developed the fish-like bodies and crescent-shaped tails, making it possible for them to cruise through the seas with the outstanding speeds.


Computer generated illustration of an ichthyosaur. Michael Rosskothen, via Shutterstock. 162711728.

Source: BBC News and Wales Online