Scotland has found a new monster leaving Nessie behind.
Scientists have found the fossils of a dolphin-like reptile on Isle of Skye that lived about 170 million years ago and got the length of about 4.3 meter.
The creature named Dearcmhara shawcross is a member of ichthyosaurs which is a dominant group of marine reptiles during the time of dinosaurs. The Ichthyosaurs, some of which reached monstrous proportions thrived for more than 150 million years until disappearing about 95 million years ago.
Dearcmhara lived feeding fishes and squids in the shallow seas during the Jurassic times. Despite of incomplete remains, according to the researchers the shape of its bones in front flippers indicates that it would be a fast and strong swimmer.
One of the researchers and paleontologist at University of Edinburgh, Steve Brusatte said “It is from Scotland, and is the first uniquely Scottish marine reptile ever discovered and studied. Many other marine reptile fossils have been found in Scotland, but the vast majority of these have disappeared into private collections or been sold. This new specimen finally breaks the impasse: it was found by a private collector who did a great thing, donated it to a museum and worked with scientists,”
The remains of the this creature was found on a beach in the northern part of the Isle of Skye in 1959 by Amateur fossil hunter Brian Shawcross and then later donated them in 1990, researchers said. The genus name Dearcmhara (pronounced “jark vara”) is Scottish Gaelic for “marine lizard.” The species name honours Shawcross.
Neil Clark, a paleontologist at University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum, who received the fossils, said “It is important to emphasize how grateful we are that Brian donated the bones he found all those years ago,”
The discovery sheds light on a span of the Jurassic regarded as nearly a black hole in the marine reptile fossil record, Brusatte said. Scotland is one of the few places with fossils from that time.
Other fossils indicate the presence of other marine reptiles that lived alongside Dearcmhara, called plesiosaurs, known for long necks and paddle-like flippers. Nessie is commonly portrayed as looking like a plesiosaur.