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Rare Discovery: 170-Million-Year-Old Jurassic 'Sea Monster' Fossil in Scotland Freed from Rock Tomb

Sep 06, 2016 05:06 AM EDT
The fossilized remains of 170 million year old ichthyosaur has finally been made available for display after being stored for more than 50 years.
(Photo : Ryan Somma (Ichthyosaur Uploaded by FunkMonk)/Wikimedia Commons)

The National Museums Scotland, in partnership with the University of Edinburg and energy company SSE, has successfully freed the 170 million years old fossil of a Jurassic sea monster from its rock casings after being stored in the museum for more than half a century.

The fossil, dubbed as Storr Lochs Monster, belongs to an ichthyosaur. Ichthyosaur is family of extinct marine reptiles that is believed to roam together with dinosaurs during the Middle Jurassic Period. The gigantic sea monster is considered to be the dolphins of their time, characterized by their long, narrow snouts and cone-shaped teeth.

According to the report from the USA Today, the fossil was discovered by amateur fossil collector Norrie Gillies while he was having a stroll near the Storr Lochs power station in 1966. Realizing the magnitude of his discovery, Gillies quickly sent a letter to the Royal Scottish Museum. The museum dispatched a team to the site to remove the fossil.

Since its transfer to the museum, the fossil remain buried in storage due to it hard concrete casing. Two generations of Gillies household later, Allan Gillies, son of Norrie and an engineer at SSE, established communication with Stephen Brusatte, a professor at University of Edinburg and one of the lead researchers analyzing the fossil.

Allan, together with his sisters, is determined to reveal what is inside their father's discovery. Allan and Brusatte seek the help of noted conservationist Nigel Larkin to prepare the fossil for display. Allan also approached his employer to raise funds needed for the project.

Unfortunately, Norrie passed away in 2011 without even witnessing the true beauty of his discovery,

"Dad's not around to see it himself, but I know he'd be very, very pleased to know that it's finally being displayed, and he'd also be very pleased to know that it's the company he worked for that helped to make it happen," Allan told National Geographic. "It's sort of completing the story."

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