144-mln-year old ‘Jurassic dragon’ fossil unearthed in Northern Ireland

November 14th, 2007 - 1:58 am ICT by admin  

“The 7cm section of vertebrae was found at Colin River. It would have belonged to a creature know as a ’sea dragon’ which was here in the Jurassic period when Ireland would have been down where the Sudan is and covered by seas,” said Paul Bennett, educational ranger at Colin Glen.

Bennett said the plesiosaur had a round short body, four flippers, a short tail and a very long neck and small head. It had sharp teeth and snapping jaws, which set a deadly trap for small aquatic animals.

He said the Colin River was rich in fossils and was of great geological interest.

In the past, shark teeth and fossils of extinct marine reptiles, ichthyosaurs have been found at the site, he said.

“When I found this, I hoped it would be the plesiosaur because that is like finding the Loch Ness monster. I’ve been told the reptile could have been about 20 metres long. This is very exciting, not just for me but for the people and the park,” Bennett said.

Dr Michael Simms, curator of palaeontology at the Ulster Museum, said the fossil could be 190 million years old.

“Pleiosaurs are very rare fossils and it is very lucky to find a single bone,” the BBC quoted Dr Simms, as saying.

Plesiosaurs were thought to have caught their prey by lashing out with their long necks and then snatching at victims with sharp teeth.

They were thought to be hunters of fish, squid and other free-swimming prey; but recent research has also indicated they would feed on bottom-dwelling animals such as clams and snails too. (ANI)

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