The extinct marine reptile, named the Storr Lochs Monster, finally unveiled more than 50 years after its discovery in Scotland
In 1966, the fossil of a massive marine reptile was discovered in the Isle of Sky in Scotland. The fossil was of an ichthyosaur, extinct dolphin-like animals that lived 170 million years ago around the same time as dinosaurs.
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Nicknamed the Storr Lochs Monster, the fossil consists of a nearly intact skeleton, making it the most complete skeleton of a sea reptile from Jurassic period that has ever been discovered in Scotland. Now, more than 50 years after the discovery, the Jurassic sea monster has been unveiled for the first time.
The fossil was encased in a rock when Norrie Gillies, an amateur fossil collector, first spotted some bones embedded in a rock near Storr Lochs power station in 1960s. The bones was trapped inside a rock harder than concert and extracting them without any damage would need right tools and expertise.
The fossil of the 'sea monster' was taken to what is now National Museums Scotland and remained stored there for 5 decades until a partnership between University of Edinburg, National Museums Scotland and energy company SSE enabled the fossil to be extracted from the rock and provided researchers a clearer picture of the fossil.
“Although some people think that sea monsters live here today in our lakes, there were actually real ones that lived here over a hundred million years ago.”Stephen Brusatte from University of Edinburgh, who is the part of team examining the fossil told National Geographic.
The ancient reptile was 13 feet long and had long, narrow snouts much like modern-day dolphins and hundreds of cone-shaped teeth, which it probably used to feed on fish and squids.
Ichthyosaur like the Storr Lochs monster ruled the waves while dinosaurs thundered across the land,” said Stephen Brusatte.
“Their bones are exceptionally rare in Scotland, which makes this specimen one of the crown jewels of Scottish fossils. It’s all thanks to the keen eye of an amateur collector that this remarkable fossil was ever found in the first place, which goes to show that you don’t need an advanced degree to make huge scientific discoveries.”
Once the analysis is complete, the fossil will be placed at different locations for public viewing.