British icthyosaur may have been the largest creature to have ever lived


Blackleaf
#1
The ancient remains of a gigantic marine reptile have been found in southwestern England. Known as an ichthyosaur, the animal lived about 205 million years ago and was up to 85 feet long—almost as big as a blue whale, say the authors of a study describing the fossil published today in PLOS ONE.

Biology textbook have long touted the modern blue whale as the largest animal that ever lived, but this and other fascinating fossil finds hint that there may once have been even bigger creatures swimming Earth’s seas.

Prehistoric 'Sea Monster' May Be Largest That Ever Lived


Finding the 85-foot ichthyosaur hints that other isolated bones from the U.K. may also belong to ancient behemoths.

BY JOHN PICKRELL
APRIL 9, 2018
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC


Skull of Shonisaurus - another large ichthyosaur

The ancient remains of a gigantic marine reptile have been found in southwestern England. Known as an ichthyosaur, the animal lived about 205 million years ago and was up to 85 feet long—almost as big as a blue whale, say the authors of a study describing the fossil published today in PLOS ONE.

Biology textbook have long touted the modern blue whale as the largest animal that ever lived, but this and other fascinating fossil finds hint that there may once have been even bigger creatures swimming Earth’s seas.

Ichthyosaurs were ocean-going contemporaries of the dinosaurs, with body shapes superficially similar to dolphins. They reached their greatest diversity about 210 million years ago in the late Triassic, but some persisted into the late Cretaceous. They vanished from the fossil record about 25 million years before the mass extinction that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs.


This reassembled jaw bone belonged to the 85-foot ichthyosaur. PHOTOGRAPH BY DEAN LOMAX, THE UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER

Most ichthyosaurs were much smaller than the newly discovered creature—several species in the genus Ichthyosaurus also found in the U.K. were just 5 to 11 feet long.

How did paleontologists find it?


Self-taught fossil hunter and study coauthor Paul de la Salle was combing the beach at Lilstock, Somerset, in May 2016 when he found a large and puzzling chunk of fossil bone. Suspecting it might be an ichthyosaur, he sent images to marine reptile experts Dean Lomax at the University of Manchester in the U.K. and Judy Massare at SUNY Brockport in New York.

Further searching revealed five fossil pieces that fitted together to form a 3.2-foot-long bone, which the scientists identified as being from the lower jaw of an ichthyosaur. Based on the size of the bone, the scientists think this ichthyosaur was bigger than any previously known to science.

How did they figure that out?

Lomax and Massare travelled to Alberta, Canada, to examine the much more complete fossil of Shonisaurus sikanniensis, a 69-foot-long ichthyosaur found in 2004. Comparing the new fossil to the same bone in the jaw of Shonisaurus revealed that the new bone is 25 percent bigger. Scaling up the animal’s full body gave the team their 85-foot size estimate. (Paleontologists also recently found a remarkably complete 16-foot ichthyosaur in India.)


Reconstructions of the giant ichthyosaur Shonisaurus show its skeletal structure and what it might have looked like in life. PHOTOGRAPH BY NOBUMICHI TAMURA & SCOTT HARTMAN

Why is this discovery important?

Lomax says the discovery has led them to reinterpret a whole series of isolated bones found near the village of Aust in Gloucestershire, England. Some collected as early as 1850, these fragments had long been interpreted to be the limb or other bones of terrestrial dinosaurs, but this never quite made sense.

The scientists realized these pieces also belonged to giant ichthyosaurs—and possibly to ones even bigger than the newly identified animal.

“We compared it with these Aust bones, and as soon as I saw it in person, my jaw just hit the floor,” Lomax says. “I realized this was a giant ichthyosaur and the biggest thing ever found in the U.K.”

Darren Naish, a paleontologist at the University of Southampton in the U.K., agrees that the sizes of all these bones are astounding. He is part of a different team that recently examined the Aust bones and similarly concluded that they belonged to enormous ichthyosaurs.

He concurs with the size estimates of the study authors, and says that these animals were “approaching or exceeding various giant baleen whales in size.”

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/...nce/?beta=true
 
Tecumsehsbones
#2
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

NEWS
Prehistoric 'Sea Monster' May Be Largest That Ever Lived

Bigger'n Prince Philip?
 
Blackleaf
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

Bigger'n Prince Philip?

Prince Philip isn't a sea creature. He's His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Grand Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Knight of the Order of Australia, Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand, Extra Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Royal Chief of the Order of Logohu, Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada, Extraordinary Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Canadian Forces Decoration, Lord of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

Prince Philip isn't a sea creature.

He was when he was in the Navy. A damned ferocious one, too.
 
Blackleaf
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

He was when he was in the Navy. A damned ferocious one, too.

He was involved in the 1941 Battle of Crete and the 1941 Battle of Cape Matapan.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#6
He's one of the last few men in Britain.
 
Curious Cdn
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

He was involved in the 1941 Battle of Crete and the 1941 Battle of Cape Matapan.

He was a real ship's commander, too. He wasn't just handed a command like his son Charles was.
 
Blackleaf
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious Cdn View Post

He was a real ship's commander, too. He wasn't just handed a command like his son Charles was.

Charles did all the necessary training during his military service.
 
Curious Cdn
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

Charles did all the necessary training during his military service.

They gave him a minesweeper so that he could honestly wear a medal or two. They don't leave the Channel.
 
Blackleaf
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious Cdn View Post

They gave him a minesweeper so that he could honestly wear a medal or two. They don't leave the Channel.

Charles followed family tradition when he served in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. During his second year at Cambridge, he requested and received Royal Air Force training. On 8 March 1971, he flew himself to the Royal Air Force College Cranwell to train as a jet pilot.[35] After the passing-out parade that September, he embarked on a naval career and enrolled in a six-week course at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth. He then served on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk (1971–1972) and the frigates HMS Minerva (1972–1973) and HMS Jupiter (1974). In 1974, he qualified as a helicopter pilot at RNAS Yeovilton, and then joined 845 Naval Air Squadron, operating from aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.[36]

On 9 February 1976, he took command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington for his last ten months of active service in the navy.[36] He learned to fly on a Chipmunk basic pilot trainer, a BAC Jet Provost jet trainer, and a Beagle Basset multi-engine trainer; he then regularly flew the Hawker Siddeley Andover, Westland Wessex and BAe 146 aircraft of The Queen's Flight[37] until he gave up flying after crashing the BAe 146 in the Hebrides in 1994.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charle...ing_and_career

And here are his medals:

 
Curious Cdn
#11
Now, his brother Andrew did dangerous things in a real shootin' war. His second son was a real soldier, not a toy one like most of his heavily be-medalled aristocratic relatives are.
 
Blackleaf
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by Curious Cdn View Post

Now, his brother Andrew did dangerous things in a real shootin' war. His second son was a real soldier, not a toy one like most of his heavily be-medalled aristocratic relatives are.

Charles, unlike Andrew and Harry, will one day be king. There's no way he, or William, will be allowed to go to the frontline.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

Charles, unlike Andrew and Harry, will one day be king. There's no way he, or William, will be allowed to go to the frontline.

Pussy kings.
 
Curious Cdn
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

Pussy kings.

... speaking of dinosaurs ...
 
darkbeaver
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by Blackleaf View Post

Charles, unlike Andrew and Harry, will one day be king. There's no way he, or William, will be allowed to go to the frontline.

The front line will come to him. hahahahahahahahahah
 
Cliffy
#16
Kings and queens are the myths of fairy tales and that is where they belong. The monarchy can get stuffed!
 
Bar Sinister
#17
Oh no, now I have Ichthyosaurus envy.