Newly Discovered: Britain’s Largest Ever, Near-Complete Reptile Fossil

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Naturalists Accidentally Discover Britain’s Largest Ever, Near-Complete Marine Reptile Fossil

by Margaret Osbourne/Smithsonianmag.com

During routine maintenance at Rutland Water Nature Reserve in England, naturalist Joe Davis noticed something strange sticking out of the mud. At first, his colleague Paul Trevor, who also works at the reserve, thought it was a pipe. After closer inspection, they realized it was a large skeleton.

“We followed what indisputably looked like a spine and Paul [Trevor] discovered something further along that could have been a jawbone,” Davis, who is the conservation team leader at Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, tells Live Science’s Patrick Pester. “We couldn’t quite believe it.”

Davis took photos of the bones and contacted paleontologist Dean Lomax at the University of Manchester.

“I immediately recognized them as ichthyosaur vertebrae,” Lomax, who led the excavation project, tells the New York Times’ Neil Vigdor. “He had found this so serendipitously.”

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