Britain’s Largest Ichthyosaur Fossils Discovered In Nature Reserve!
Pay a visit to Rutland Water Nature Reserve in the near future and you might well just be lucky enough to see the fossilised remains of the largest ichthyosaur in Britain, also known colloquially as sea dragons!
Anglian Water owns and runs the reserve, which is now home to the biggest and most complete skeleton of this kind that has been found to date in this country. And not only that, but it’s also thought that this is the first ichthyosaur of its species (Temnodontosaurus trigonodon) in the UK.
It’s thought that it is around 180 million years old, with the skeleton measuring approximately ten metres in length. Its skull also weighs around one tonne – and it’s the most complete large ichthyosaur ever to be found in Britain.
It was discovered by Joe Davis, conservation team leader at Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, which operates the reserve alongside Anglian Water.
The team was carrying out a routine draining of a lagoon island set for re-landscaping in February last year when the exciting discovery was made – and it has just been featured on BBC Two’s Digging for Britain on January 11th (now available on BBC iPlayer).
However, this is not the first time that fossilised remains have been found at the reservoir, with two smaller incomplete ichthyosaurs found in the 1970s during the initial construction of Rutland Water.
Other work that Anglian Water has been focused on in recent weeks includes investing in a drive to protect wildlife habitats in areas where work is being carried out.
Staff from the firm’s Strategic Pipeline Alliance (SPA) recently volunteered at Froglife, an amphibian and reptile conservation charity, to learn more about them and help to create habitats where they can live and breed.
The SPA is set to create hundreds of kilometres of new water pipes in the region, running from Lincolnshire to Essex, to help bring water to dry areas in the south from wetter places in the north.
Those involved in the project, which is one of the biggest water-based infrastructure projects in Europe, have already completed conservation work such as building special fences to protect commuter routes for bats. In addition, high-tech drones have been used to fly missions at night to help protect nesting birds.
Discussing the work being done to protect amphibians and reptiles, director of the SPA James Crompton explained that one of the most important aspects of the work being done across the network is protecting and enhancing local environments.
He went on to add that the particular site they’re working on is an important amphibian breeding ground. The hope is that the efforts being undertaken now to support Froglife and its volunteers will help make a difference to populations in the local area.
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