THE LARGEST fossilised remains of a prehistoric “sea dragon” have been discovered in Rutland, with its finder hailing it as a “career highlight” after being interviewed for publications across the world.
The 180-million-year old discovery was made at Rutland Water Nature Reserve by Joe Davis during a routine draining of one of the site’s lagoon islands.
It is the largest and most complete fossilised skeleton of an Ichthyosaur ever found in the UK, measuring 10 metres in length.
The skull of the prehistoric creature itself is said to weigh approximately one tonne.
Mr Davis, who is Rutland Water’s Conservation Team Leader, labelled the discovery as a “real career highlight,” telling Pukaar News that the story had gone as far as Australia.
“The New York Times have even interviewed me,” he revealed. “It’s just been an amazing response to an amazing find.
“How [the fossil] has remained there, in the mud and in tact over such an amazing period of time, under glaciers and with the plates of the earth moving round, volcanic explosions and all those kinds of things going on is just remarkable,” he added.
Mr Davis, says that he hopes the remains will be kept in the area so that local people can visit and appreciate the discovery, as well as providing a welcome boost to tourism.
“It’s going to take a year-and-a-half to clean the fossil up, to study it and then to recreate, but I’d love to see it displayed locally as it was, and also with a fleshed out version alongside it,” he said.
“That would be an amazing thing to see and something i think people could come and enjoy for years to come.”
Ichthyosaurs first appeared around 250 million years ago and were a group of marine reptiles, which varied in size from one to more than 25 metres in length, and resembled dolphins in general body shape.
The remains were fully excavated early last year and will feature tonight (Tuesday, January 11), on BBC Two’s Digging for Britain at 8pm, before being made available on BBC iPlayer.
By Louise Steel