8 July 2011
Dorset pliosaur: ‘Most fearsome predator’ unveiled
By Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC News
A skull belonging to one of the largest "sea monsters" ever unearthed is being unveiled to the public.
The beast, which is called a pliosaur, has been described as the most fearsome predator the Earth has seen.The fossil was found in Dorset, but it has taken 18 months to remove the skull from its rocky casing, revealing the monster in remarkable detail.Scientists suspect the creature, which is on show at the Dorset County Museum, may be a new species or even genus.Richard Edmonds, Dorset County Council's earth science manager for the Jurassic Coast, said: "This is amazing. We saw this fossil initially as a pile of bones - and slowly, after a lot of hard work, it has come together."We are now told this skull is 95% complete, and probably one of the largest and certainly one of the most well-preserved and complete pliosaurs ever found anywhere in the world."The 155-million-year-old fossil was discovered by local collector Kevan Sheehan between 2003 and 2008 as it gradually tumbled out of the cliffs near Weymouth. He told BBC News: "It was sheer luck - I was sitting on the beach, and saw three pieces. I had no idea what they were, but I proceeded to drag them back. Then over several years, I'd go back every year and find a new piece. I'm a beach magpie."
See pics read rest here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14061347