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25 meter tall reptile remains found in Great Britain

25 meter tall reptile remains found in Great Britain

(Keystone SDA) The remains of a massive marine reptile have been found at the mouth of the River Severn in Great Britain. According to a research team report in the journal “Plos One,” the ichthyosaur could have been more than 25 meters long.

The animal's lower jaw alone was over two meters long. Fragments of a jaw bone were discovered in 2020 by Ruby Reynolds, then eleven years old, who was searching for fossils on Blue Anchor Beach in Somerset with her father Justin. Both recognized that the bones were similar to another discovery described in 2018.

This impressed Dean Lomax, an ichthyosaur expert at the University of Manchester, who invited him to the research team that described the discovery. Ruby is just a published scientist, they said. Not only did he discover a giant prehistoric reptile, he helped name it, Lomax said. Its technical name is now Ichthyotitan severnensis, which translates to “giant fish lizard from the Severn”.

More bones are needed to confirm

The mandible discovered by father and daughter Reynolds in 2018 is more complete and better preserved than the one described. He confirmed some unique features of the first found bone fragment, which is ten kilometers away from Blue Anchor. “It's remarkable that giant ichthyosaurs, the size of blue whales, swam the seas around the UK during the Triassic,” Lomax points out. The Triassic is the oldest period of the Mesozoic; It started about 252 million years ago and ended about 201 million years ago.

Reconstruction of the fragments revealed that the mandible was about 2.3 meters long. The study authors compared the bone to, among others, the lower jaw of the 5.4-meter-long Besanosaurus leptorhynchus. The distinguishing features of the remains of Ichthyotitan severnensis were about five times as far apart as comparable bones of Besanosaurus, so the body length was five times larger, scientists assumed. “However, it is worth noting that this is based on fragmentary remains, so more complete samples are needed to confirm giant size,” they write.

“These jawbones provide a hint that a complete skull or skeleton of one of these giants may one day be found,” Lomax said. 25 meters in length could be even more: study co-author Marcello Perrillo of the University of Bonn, who examined the bone tissue, showed that the ichthyosaur from Blue Anchor Beach was not yet fully grown.

Also a younger giant race

If the data are confirmed, Ichthyotitan severnensis would be the largest ichthyosaur species discovered to date, but the youngest: the fossils come from a rock formation about 202 million years old – 13 million years younger than previously known giant ichthyosaurs.

201 million years ago, at the end of the Triassic, the fifth great mass extinction in Earth's history occurred, killing all the large ichthyosaurs. After that, marine reptiles never again reached comparable sizes. They completely disappeared about 93 million years ago.