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Thursday, 24 October, 2002, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Prehistoric 'sea dragon' found
Reconstruction of a plesiosaur head
"Sea dragons" were common when the sea was warmer
The remains of a prehistoric monster have been found on the east coast of Yorkshire.

The plesiosaur, which resembles the Loch Ness monster, dates back to the beginning of the Cretaceous period 130 million years ago.

Known as the "sea dragon", it would have had a round short body, four flippers, a short tail and a very long neck with a small head.

The creature was found by amateur palaeontologist Nigel Armstrong when he stumbled across the bones sticking out of the cliff face just south of Filey.

Will Watts
Experts excavated the bones

The skeleton shows this particular specimen measured four-metres in length.

A team of palaeontogists has spent the last week excavating the remains, which are now in the hands of Scarborough Museums and Gallery.

Dinosaur coast project officer, Will Watts, told BBC News Online: "The place where this discovery came from is well known for fossils but not skeletons and the bones were in really good condition."

It will take up to a year for scientists to clean and record the findings, comparing the bones with those of other creatues.

'Important discovery'

"It will possibly be described as a new species," said Mr Watts.

Sea dragons would have been prolific in the area when seas were warmer and deeper.

Mark Evans, curator of geology at Leicester City Museums, told BBC News Online: "This is a very important discovery.

Knowledge gap

"We know there were plesiosaurs towards the end of the Jurassic period but then no great numbers until about 95 million years ago.

"We have a gap in our knowledge of 30 million years and this creature is from that gap."

The sea dragon will go on display in Scarborough late next year.


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See also:

29 Aug 02 | UK
27 Aug 02 | Scotland
25 Apr 01 | Science/Nature
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