The British people are famous for their Loch Ness monster legend. However, a real sea monster used to roam their waters. Its fossil was discovered in 1966 and now it is displayed in Edinburgh.
Researchers estimate that the sea monster lived in the Jurassic age, about 170 million years ago. The fossil reveals its skeleton, and specialists were able to identify it as an ichthyosaurs. Its’ peculiar appearance and features make them believe it could be the ancestor of modern days’ whales.
Although it was identified as an ichthyosaur, the sea monster was also given a nickname, which is Storr Lochs Monster.
Specialists are extremely enthusiastic about the finding, as they don’t have much information on the era in which the ichthyosaurs lived. Middle Jurassic is still an age that needs further research. However, they know that while dinosaurs ruled the land, ichthyosaurs ruled the waters.
The sea monster’s skeleton was discovered by Norrie Gillies fifty years ago. The discovery was made on the Isle of Skye. Gillies was a fossil collector, but this was no ordinary item in his collection. The fossil was found in a massive piece of rock. Gillies’ son helped the researchers too.
The size of the fossil is that of a dolphin today, as the specialists inform us. However, ichthyosaurs could have been much larger. Their body length could have reached four meters. The skeleton reveals that the animal used to have many sharp teeth. It also had big-sized eyes. They suspect that it used to feed on fish and squid.
Researchers intend to find out more about marine reptiles in the Middle Jurassic. The skeleton of the sea monster will help them gather more specific data than the ones they already have. Although it is not complete, the ichthyosaur skeleton is one of the best-preserved reptile fossils dating back to the distant times of dinosaurs. It is believed that they survived up until the Late Cretaceous era.
Storr Lochs Monster is not the first ichthyosaur fossil that paleontologists had the chance to analyze. They also found a baby ichthyosaur before, as well as an adult of the same species. The adult seemed to be larger than the one discovered fifty years ago.
It is no wonder that this special fossil was found on the Isle of Skye. The Highland area is famous for hosting unique fossils dating back to the Middle Jurassic age.
The public will also have the chance to see the fossils of the Jurassic sea monster.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia