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Dog walker discovers 65 million-year-old ichthyosaur skeleton on beach in Somerset


A dog walker has claimed he discovered a 65 million-year-old skeleton on a Somerset beach after his sharp-nosed dogs sniffed it out.

Dog walker discovers 65 million-year-old ichthyosaur skeleton on beach in Somerset
Fossilized skeleton, likely of an ichthyosaur, on the rocky beach of Stolford, Somerset
[Credit: Jon Gopsill, Caters News]
Jon Gopsill, 54, was on the coast near Stolford, Somerset, with his two pets when he stumbled across the five-and-a-half foot long fossil, which had been exposed by recent storms.

It is thought that the prehistoric fossil is from the Jurassic period and was a porpoise-like sea reptile known as the ichthyosaur.


Amateur archaeologist Mr Gopsill has reported his findings Somerset Heritage and the Natural History Museum.

Jon said: "I often go to the beach walking with my dogs and when the tide goes out we go out to the rocks because they like playing there."

Dog walker discovers 65 million-year-old ichthyosaur skeleton on beach in Somerset
Fossil detail [Credit: Jon Gopsill, Caters News]
"I have always been a bit of an amateur fossil hunter and I have found a good supply of ammonites, so I always keep my eyes open.

"We were at the beach when I saw this thing and thought 'what's that?' so I went a bit closer and thought 'wow'.


"I thought it was obviously a fossilised sea creature, possibly an ichthyosaur. It doesn't have a head , I have look around but I can't find it. It has been there for at least 65 million years.

"I realised straight that it was amazing, museum quality stuff, as soon as I saw it I knew I found something special. I was just blown away to see it there. It really is incredible that is has survived for such a long time and is now just there for everyone to see.”

Dog walker discovers 65 million-year-old ichthyosaur skeleton on beach in Somerset
Paleontologist hero dogs with their find [Credit: Jon Gopsill, Caters News]
With its own Jurassic and Triassic rocks, West Somerset’s northern bays are known for their fossil finds.

Last year, part of the lower jaw of a 85-foot ichthyosaur was found in the Somerset village of Lilstock, thought to be 235 to 200 million years old.

Author: Verity Bowman | Source: The Telegraph [December 20, 2019]

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