Friday July 8th, 2011

Dorset County Museum are unveiling the skull of one of the largest sea monsters ever to grace the oceans. The pliosaur is believed to be the most fearsome predator to have ever existed. According to scientists the skull, which has taken 18 months to remove from its rock casing could actually be a new species or genus.

Dorset County Council's earth science manager for the Jurassic Coast, Richard Edmonds, said, 'This is amazing. We saw this fossil initially as a pile of bones - and slowly, after a lot of hard work, it has come together... We are now told this skull is 95% complete, and probably one of the largest and certainly one of the most well-preserved and complete pliosaurs ever found anywhere in the world.'

Local collector Kevan Sheehan discovered the 155-million-year-old fossil during visits to Dorset’s Jurassic coast between 2003 and 2008. He told the press, 'It was sheer luck - I was sitting on the beach, and saw three pieces. I had no idea what they were, but I proceeded to drag them back. Then over several years, I'd go back every year and find a new piece. I'm a beach magpie.'

Palaeontologist Richard Forrest said of the so called ‘biting machine’, 'This is an iconic specimen - one of the most exciting we have seen in years... It was probably the most fearsome predator that ever lived. Standing in front of the skull you can imagine this enormous beast staring straight back at you, fixing you with its binocular vision, and attacking. Just thinking about it raises the hairs on the back of your neck.'

The skull is around eight feet in length whish suggests a creature around 60 feet in length.

Richard Edmonds said, 'I've looked at some of the papers of described animals, and it looks different: it is much more massive, much more robust... But to determine whether it is anything new is a whole study in its own right. We'll have to go away, carefully compared to the existing species... But I wouldn't be surprised if in a year's time, we are standing here and looking at something that is new to science.'

Dorset County Museum baught the fossil for £20,000 using Heritage Lottery Funds. The money was split between 50/50 the Mr Sheehan and the landowner. It will be unveiled by Sir David Attenborough.

Dorset County Museums Adviser, David Tucker, said, 'Our initial expectations have been more than met and the creature looks absolutely fabulous and we doubt whether there is a more complete pliosaur skull anywhere in the world... It is amazing to have the largest, most complete skull of the most powerful predator to live on Earth on display on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, the home of the science of palaeontology'
Comments (1)
15/07/2011 @ 9:34 pm
George Masdin
You haven't met my missus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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