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Fossil of mysterious Jurassic sea monster to be unveiled in Scotland

IT MAY not be “Nessie” the Loch Ness monster but a Scottish university has unveiled the fossil of a mysterious Jurassic sea monster, half a century after it was discovered.
The skeleton of the creature was found on the Isle of Skye in 1966 and has been dubbed the Storr Lochs Monster.
According to scientists at the University of Edinburgh the fierce “dolphin-like” predator lived around 170 million years ago. The four metre-long creature had a long and pointed head filled with hundreds of cone shaped teeth which it likely used to feast on fish and squid.
“It is the most complete skeleton of a sea-living reptile from the Age of Dinosaurs that has ever been found in Scotland,” the University said.
The fossil has been quietly sitting in storage at the country’s National Museum for 50 years but a partnership between the Edinburgh university, National Museums Scotland and energy company SSE means that researchers will finally be able to extract it from the rock that has encased it for millions of years.
The mammoth task will give palaeontologists a much clearer picture of the fossil as a team of scientists readies to study it upon excavation.
The fossil belongs to a family of marine reptiles known as ichthyosaurs, the university said in a statement. The ancient animals dominated the waters at the same time dinosaurs trampled the Earth.
“Ichthyosaurs like the Storr Lochs Monster ruled the waves while dinosaurs thundered across the land. Their bones are exceptionally rare in Scotland, which makes this specimen one of the crown jewels of Scottish fossils,” Dr Steve Brusatte from the university’s School of GeoSciences said.
The initial discovery of the fossil was made by the manager of a nearby power station, Norrie Gillies, who died in 2011 aged 93.
“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,” Dr Brusatte said.

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