‘Sea monster’ fossils found

There is much excitement among the town’s 
historians as the remains of a ‘sea monster’ have been found in a farmer’s field near 
Horncastle.

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Last month, there was national excitement when the complete skeleton of an Ichthyosaur was found at Rutland Water.

The extinct aquatic reptile was found to measure more than 10 metres long and is thought to have lived more than 180 million years ago.

Well, now there is excitement closer to home after fossils were found in a farmer’s field in Ashby Puerorum when he was digging a drainage channel behind his house.

Ichthyosaur, Stenopterygius quadriscissus swimming in the ocean, extinct marine reptile from Early Triassic to Late Cretaceous, 3d science rendering background banner EMN-220802-161531001

Horncastle’s Natural Science & Heritage Centre curator, Paul Scott, said: “They weren’t found in the chalk like you’d expect in that area, but in thick clay which would have held the bones there for millions of years.”

Upon further inspection, more fossils, which were thought to be vertebrae, were found and the farmer spent some time researching the fossils, and he wondered if they could belong to the Icthyosaur. The remains have now been verified by experts to belong to one of these extinct marine beasts.

They have been given the nickname ‘the Wolds Sea Monster’ in honour of where it was found.

The Ichthyosaur was most abundant during the Triassic and Jurassic periods of history – between 251 to 145 million years ago - – and was fish-like in appearance, with no neck to speak of as the head blended into the body.

They fed on fish and other marine animals and were unlikely to have ventured onto land at all.

During this period in history, shallow seas covered much of the British Isles and were clear, warm waters similar to today’s sub-tropical sea water.

The fossils now reside safely in the Natural Science & Heritage Centre within the Sir Joseph Banks Centre.

Curator Paul Scott said that it was “mind-blowing” just how old these fossils are, and that it was an incredible find for Horncastle and archaeology.

“Considering just how old these fossils are it’s absolutely staggering,” he said.

“It beggars belief how they managed to survive as they were there before the Wolds as we know them now were formed, and the edges on the bones are still quite sharp.”