The deadly Pilosaur was the ultimate killing machine in the ocean around 150 million years ago and has been dug up from the cliffs of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast
A giant sea monster has been discovered – at Britain’s seaside.
A huge skull of a deadly Pliosaur was dug up on from the cliffs of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. It was was the ultimate killing machine and at 10-12m long, with four powerful flipper-like limbs to propel itself at high speed, it was the apex predator in the ocean 150 millions years ago. The skull will take centre stage in a special David Attenborough programme on BBC One on New Year’s Day.
Dr Andre Rowe, from Bristol University, said:”The animal would have been so massive that I think it would have been able to prey effectively on anything that was unfortunate enough to be in its space. “I have no doubt that this was sort of like an underwater T Rex.”
Local palaeontologist Steve Etches said: “It’s one of the best fossils I’ve ever worked on. What makes it unique is it’s complete. “The lower jaw and the upper skull are meshed together, as they would be in life. Worldwide, there’s hardly any specimens ever found to that level of detail.
“And if they are, a lot of the bits are missing, whereas this, although it’s slightly distorted – it’s got every bone present. “The skull is longer than most humans are tall, which gives you a sense of how big the creature must have been overall. You can’t help but focus on its 130 teeth, especially those at the front. Long and razor sharp, they could kill with a single bite.”
Meals would have included other reptiles such as its long-necked cousin, the plesiosaur, and the dolphin-like ichthyosaur – and fossil evidence reveals that it would have even feasted on other passing pliosaurs. The 2m long fossil was found Steve Etches’ friend and fellow fossil enthusiast Phil Jacobs came across the tip of the snout of the pliosaur lying in the shingle during a stroll along a beach near Kimmeridge Bay.
Steve Etches will put the skull on display next year at his museum in Kimmeridge – the Etches Collection. It has some vertebrae poking out at the back of the head but trailing off after just a few bones. They are a tantalising clue that more of the fossil might still be in the cliff. Steve is keen to finish what he started. He said: “I stake my life the rest of the animal is there. And it really should come out because it’s in a very rapidly eroding environment. This part of the cliff line is going back by feet a year.
“And it won’t be very long before the rest of the pliosaur drops out and gets lost. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”