Move over Nessie, there’s a new (bona fide) sea monster in town. Scientists have unveiled the fossil of the Storr Lochs Monster, which wandered the oceans 170 million years ago.
The dolphin-like animal was originally discovered in 1966 on the Isle of Skye, according to the National Museums Scotland Facebook page and was extracted from a rock that encased it for millions of years. “It is the most complete skeleton of a sea-living reptile from the Age of Dinosaurs that has ever been found in Scotland.”
According to the BBC, the extinct marine reptile was part of the family of animals known as ichthyosaurs. This fittingly-dubbed “crown jewel of Scottish fossils” will now be examined by paleontologists from the University of Edinburgh and National Museums Scotland to study the ichthyosaurs’ evolution. The Storr Lochs Monster will then be on public display for visitors to view.
The marine reptile measured in at 13 feet in length and had cone-shaped teeth, ideal for feeding on fish and squid. According to the BBC article, the Isle of Skye contains many fossils from the Middle Jurassic Period, which saw the emergence of “some of the first mammals, birds and reptiles such as snakes.” During this time, says Dr. Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, ichthyosaurs ruled the seas, while dinosaurs roamed the lands.
The fossils from the Isle of Skye have given scientists crucial insights into “the lives of prehistoric predators and their prey” and they hope the Storr Lochs Monster can now shed light on whether or not it was the first of its kind or if it resembles other species.
Scientists Unveil Fossil of 170-Million-Year-Old Sea Monster