Fossil collector pieces together 90 million year old dinosaur skull


A fossil collector has finally completed piecing together a 90 million year old skull belonging to a rare marine DINOSAUR.

Enthusiast Mike Harrison, 47, spent the last two years searching for parts of the skull belonging to Ichthyosaur, dubbed the ‘King’ of Jurassic seas.

The shop worker discovered 21 shards of bone after a landslide along the Jurassic Coast in Lyme Regis, Dorset, in May 2008.

Now after two years, he has completed piecing together the skull – measuring 5ft long and weighing 25 stone – of the marine reptile.

Mr Harrison, from Sidmouth, Devon, said he has spent much of his spare time searching for the ancient remains and is storing the skull on his kitchen table.

He said: ”Within a week or two of the landslide in May 2008 I found the first piece of the skull.

”From then on it was a race to find the rest of it which I did after six months hard work. There were 21 pieces which were quite large, around 18 inches by two feet.

”Some of the teeth have broken off but the roots are still there. So this may suggest that the dinosaur died of old age or that it couldn’t feed itself. They would have had around 150 teeth.

”I’ve been storing the pieces in a spare room, but now it’s on the kitchen table so it’s been TV dinners for a while.

”Everything in the landslide is 190 million years old, all from the early Jurassic period.

”The ichthyosaur is about as big as it gets The whole creature would be knocking on 30 feet.”

Mr Harrison who has been captivated by fossil hunting from a young age said he knew what it was when he found the first bone.

He said: ”Although you can’t tell what will be found, it’s probably the biggest thing that will come out of the landslip, and there hasn’t been anything else similar to its size.

”They are so rare it could be the only one.”

The find has been registered with the Charmouth Heritage Centre and will then be sent to a museum.

Palaeontologist Phil Davidson said: ”It’s fairly common to find small isolated bones on the beach, but to find such an enormous skull is very rare.

”The time and effort Mike put into finding it, going back again and back again after the landslide is incredible.”

Ichthyosaurs were air-breathing like whales and dolphins and were built for speed with a porpoise-like head and a long, toothed snout.

It has been estimated that Ichthyosaurs could swim at speeds up to 40 kilometres per hour and ate squid-like fish.

They first appeared approximately 245 million years ago and disappeared about 90 million years ago, 25 million years before the dinosaurs became extinct.


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