A Father-Daughter Duo Hunting For Fossils In England Discovered The Jawbone Of The Largest Marine Reptile In Evolutionary History That Swam The Seas 202 Million Years Ago

Helen Hotson - - illustrative purposes only

The blue whale is regarded as the largest animal ever to exist on the planet. However, a recent finding that involves the remains of a large marine reptile has shown that the blue whale, which can reach up to 110 feet long, may have some competition.

Along the English coast on a beach in Somerset, a father-daughter duo had been hunting for fossils when they encountered a large jawbone belonging to a marine reptile that swam the oceans 202 million years ago. It is believed to be the largest marine reptile in evolutionary history.

The newfound species is known as an ichthyosaur or “fish lizard.” It was given the name Ichthyotitan severnensis, which means “giant fish lizard of the Severn” in Latin.

The ichthyosaur’s jawbone measured more than 6.5 feet long. Based on the jawbone, experts estimate that the creature was around 82 feet in length.

The jawbone was found in 2020 by Justin Reynolds and his 11-year-old daughter, Ruby. She was the one who discovered the first piece of bone on the beach at Blue Anchor, Somerset.

Then, she and her dad found more fragments together. Recognizing the significance of their find, they contacted Dr. Dean Lomax, an ichthyosaur expert and a paleontologist at the University of Manchester, to check out the fossils.

Remarkably, it turned out that the fossils were a match for another jawbone discovery that was made in 2016, not far from where the Reynolds were digging around.

The newly discovered jawbone was in better condition than the first specimen, showcasing distinct features of the creature. Together, the two separate discoveries provided enough information for researchers to be able to identify a new prehistoric sea reptile.

The bones date back around 202 million years ago to a time known as the Rhaetian, which occurred toward the end of the Triassic period.

Helen Hotson – – illustrative purposes only

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