Must be from the Jaw-rassic period! The open mouth fossil of 195-million-year-old dolphin-like creature found on Dorset beach - The 18-inch fossil of an ichthyosaur was found near Lyme Regis - The creature's mouth is still open in the unique find
The remains of a 195-million-year-old reptile have been discovered on Britain's Jurassic Coast.
Geologist Richard Edmonds stumbled across the 18-inch fossil of an ichthyosaur - a dolphin-like sea creature - near Lyme Regis in Dorset.
Mr Edmonds spotted a small part of the perfectly-preserved jaw of the extinct reptile sticking out of the mud - and said he almost ignored it.
The remains of a 195-million-year-old reptile discovered on Britain's Jurassic Coast. Geologist Richard Edmonds stumbled across the fossil of an ichthyosaur - a dolphin-like sea creature - near Lyme Regis, Dorset
GIANT DOLPHINS WERE OCEANS' DINOSAURS
- Ichthyosaurs swam in the sea at the same time dinosaurs roamed the land, which was around 220 to 65 million years ago.
- The beasts would have looked similar to dolphins but were reptilian.
- The earliest ichthyosaurs had long, flexible bodies and probably swam by undulating, like living eels
But on closer inspection the 50-year-old fossil hunter realised it was a full ichthyosaur jaw.
It is said to be a finer example than the ichthyosaur fossils held by the Natural History Museum because the beast's mouth is open.
It was found along a 100-mile stretch of Dorset coast which was made a World Heritage Site in 2001 because of its wealth of fossils.
Mr Edmonds, earth science manager at the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, said:
'I spotted a piece of bone in the shale but it was so insignificant I almost didn't bother with it.
'Then I had a closer look and within a few seconds the whole jaw almost fell out of the rock.
'Looking for these things are like searching for a needle in a haystack so it was a really exciting moment when I realised what I'd found.
'It is a very exciting process piecing all the bits back together.
An artist's impression of the ichthyosaur, which looked similar to dolphins but were reptilian
A complete fossil of Ichthyosaurs, which swam in the sea at the same time dinosaurs roamed the land
'It's quite unusual to see a fossil like this one with a gaping mouth,' said Mr Edmonds.
'You won't see anything like this one at the Natural History Museum.'
Mr Edmonds, who has been collecting fossils since 1973, said the secret to his success was sheer tenacity.
He added: 'I've spent all my holiday this year on the ledges looking for ichthyosaurs.
'I must have spent 40 days walking up and down the beach.
'It's been like playing the lottery - they're just so hard to find.'
The ichthyosaur fossil will go on display at Lyme Regis Museum. ( dailymail.co.uk )
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Must be from the Jaw-rassic period! The open mouth fossil of 195-million-year-old dolphin-like creature found on Dorset beach