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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 17:58 GMT
Swimming reptile fossil examined
Pliosaur fossil
Dr Leslie Noe starts to clean the jaws of the pliosaur
Rare fossilised bones from a 130-million-year-old reptile arrived at a Cambridge museum on Tuesday.

The remains of the pliosaur, which last swam in seas covering Colombia during the time of the dinosaurs, are to be examined by scientists at the University of Cambridge's Sedgwick Museum.

The bones of the pliosaur, a reptilian equivalent of the killer whale, were excavated in 1967 outside Bogota and represented an entirely new species previously unknown to scientists.

But the four-metre long marine reptile, last alive during the Cretaceous Period, remained forgotten in vaults of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota.

I knew instantly it was a very, very important animal, and completely new to science
Dr Leslie Noe
They were rediscovered four years ago by student Marcela Gomez who has also travelled to the UK.

The skeleton has been loaned to the Sedgwick Museum where experts will remove the bones from the rock, a process expected to take three years, and study them.

Dr Leslie Noe, a palaeontologist at the museum, said: "When I saw them for the first time I was utterly amazed.

"I knew instantly it was a very, very important animal, and completely new to science.

"It is important that we work with our Colombian colleagues in order to understand this fascinating new beast."

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