The bones of a marine reptile predator which swam tropical seas around North Yorkshire 180 million years ago and became one of the largest sea monsters ever found in Britain have gone on display in York.
The fossilised remains of the massive ichthyosaur, first found in Jurassic rocks near Whitby and given to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society in 1857, have been revealed to the public in their entirety for the first time in 20 years at the Yorkshire Museum. A £20,000 project by conservator Nigel Larkin took 12 months to conserve the entire corpse.
“These are the remains of a huge creature which we think looked a bit like an enormous dolphin,” said Isla Gladstone, the curator of Natural Science, who had to match up the body parts and place them in the right order alongside assistant curator Stuart Ogilvy.
“It would probably have filled a similar role to the dolphin too, being an active hunter, seeking out squid-like creatures, fish and potentially other reptiles.
“It is rare to find such a complete example and we are delighted that we can now put all of it back on display for people to see.”
Otherwise known as the Temnodontosaurus crassimanus, the ichthyosaur lived at the same time as dinosaurs, becoming extinct around 90 million years ago.
They were notable for having enormous eyes in comparison to their bodies, and were named by dinosaur discoverer Richard Owen.