Swimming reptile unearthed in Scotland

Todd Marshall

Swimming reptile unearthed in Scotland

Forget the Loch Ness monster: Scotland was once home to a swimming reptile the size of a motorboat. Scientists have discovered the country’s first known ichthyosaur, a large marine creature that lived during the Middle Jurassic period about 170 million years ago. The fragmentary specimen—dubbed Dearcmhara shawcrossi by researchers who describe it online today in the Scottish Journal of Geology—is named after amateur collector Brian Shawcross, who found the fossils on the shores of Scotland’s rugged and picturesque Isle of Skye. (Dearcmhara, pronounced “jark vara,” is Scottish Gaelic for “marine lizard.”) The ichthyosaur, pictured here in an artist’s reconstruction, was about 4 meters long and hunted fish and smaller reptiles in the then-warm seas around Skye, which has some of the world’s best preserved Middle Jurassic sediments.

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