Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Fossil 'replica' found to be unknown species of dinosaur

A mystery fossil at Doncaster Museum has been identified as a new species of marine reptile which would have lived 183 million years ago.

A mystery fossil at Doncaster Museum has been identified as a new species of marine reptile which would have lived 183 million years ago.

The fossil, named Fizzy in a competition, was labelled as an ichthyosaur.

Staff had believed it was a plaster cast replica, but after an investigation by palaeontologist Dean Lomax, it was identified as a brand new species.

The new species has been named Ichthyosaurus anningae in honour of the British collector, and woman in science, Mary Anning, who first collected ichthyosaurs in the early 1800s.

It is the first new Ichthyosaurus identified for almost 130 years. The fossil was originally discovered in the late 1970s along the Dorset Coast, around Charmouth and Seatown, near Lyme Regis.

It represents an almost complete skeleton including a well preserved skull with teeth and is roughly 183 million years old.

Fizzy also comes complete with its last meal before it died.

Dean gave ITV Calendar a detailed look at Fizzy the fossil:

Mary worked tirelessly to bring the ichthyosaurs, among other fossils, to the attention of the scientific world. Mary and her brother, Joseph, discovered the first ichthyosaur specimen to be scientifically recognised, collected at Lyme Regis around 1811. It is an honour to name a new species, but to name it after somebody who is intertwined with such an important role in helping to sculpt the science of palaeontology, especially in Britain, is something that I’m very proud of. In fact, one of the specimens in our study was even found by Mary herself! Science is awesome. This discovery shows that new species, and not only ichthyosaurs, are awaiting discovery in museum collections. Not all new discoveries are made in the field.

– Dean Lomax, palaeontologist

Peter Robinson, the museum curator, told ITV Calendar the discovery would influence research for years to come: