Jurassic ichthyosaur found in Saltburn and kept under bed for 16 years up for sale at auction

Fisherman James Moore made the find when he spotted a piece of the backbone of what would turn out to be an ichthyosaur in 2007. Credit: David Duggleby

A 200 million year old fossil of a reptile predator will go under the hammer at auction after spending 16 years under a fisherman's bed.

Redcar native James Moore made the discovery when he spotted a piece of the backbone of an ichthyosaur sticking out of the Saltburn shale after a series of particularly strong tides in 2007.

Ichthyosaurs creatures, which looked similar to dolphins, were the apex predators of the world’s oceans for 50 million years during the Jurassic period.

The Ichthyosaurs lived in the world’s oceans for 50 million years during the Jurassic period and could reach 69ft in length. Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc

The reptile could reach as much as 69 feet in length, was equipped with a ferocious array of knife-sharp teeth and could weigh close to a ton.

Palaeontologists who have examined the Saltburn site and the 25 segments of vertebrae (almost three and a half feet of backbone) estimated that the ichthyosaur was probably around 20 feet and lived at the beginning of the Jurassic period, which would make it the earliest example of the creature discovered on the Yorkshire Coast.

Now retired and in the process of downsizing to a smaller home, Mr Moore has decided that the time has come to part with his great discovery.

It will go under the hammer on Friday 7 July in a fossils, minerals and natural sciences auction at David Duggleby’s Vine Street sale rooms in Scarborough.

The pre-sale estimate is £1,500-£2,000.

He said: “I had a case made to protect the fossil but displaying it properly does require space. For most of the last 16 years, it's been under my bed.

“I do think that it would be nice for it to go to somebody who is able to display it properly so that people are able to see it.”

Duggleby’s Jess Tarver added: “At 200 million years old it’s safe to say that the ichthyosaur fossil is amongst the oldest things we have ever offered at auction.

“Actually we are told that these are the old oldest remains of the reptile that have so far been discovered in the region. The lot is attracting considerable interest and there is no doubt that it would be a great addition to any local fossil collection.”

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