Archive for December 16th, 2019

Dogs discover dinosaur fossil on Somerset beach

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Poppy and Sam discovered the mineralized skeleton of a dinosaur while enjoying a walk on the beach at Stolford, Somerset, on Saturday. Their owner Jon Gopsill was walking them at low tide when they stumbled on a skeleton five and a half feet long that had been exposed by recent storm activity.

Gopsill is a paleontology fan and has found several fossils before, but they were mainly ammonites, not a large Mesozoic marine reptile. He has reported Poppy and Sam’s find to Somerset Heritage and sent photographs to the Natural History Museum in London.

Dr. Mike Day, curator in the Earth Sciences department at the Natural History Museum, confirmed the skeleton was likely to belong to an ichthyosaur, though he is unable to say for certain without inspecting it in person.

Dr. Day explained:

“Looking at this specimen, based on the number of bones in the pectoral paddle, the apparent absence of a pelvic girdle, as well as the distinctive ‘hunch’ of the back, this is likely to be the remains of an ichthyosaur.

It is not possible to identify the exact type of ichthyosaur from these images alone, however.”

NB: The news service article (carried verbatim in several media outlets) describes ichthyosaurs as “porpoise-like sea mammals,” and while they were porpoise-like in some morphological aspects, they were not mammals. The name itself should have been sufficient to overcome this basic fact-checking deficiency as any 10-year-old and/or viewer of a quarter century of blockbuster movies could tell you “saur” comes from the Greek for “lizard.” Dinosaurs, all of them, were reptiles. Everyone knows this. You can tell Poppy and Sam know it.

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