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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Reptile named after electrician
Reconstruction of a plesiosaur head
Plesiosaurs used to roam the North Yorkshire coast millions of year ago
A 70 million-year-old plesiosaur may be named after the electrician who discovered it, experts said.

Nigel Armstrong from Doncaster found the marine reptile fossil's skeleton on land south of Filey in 2002.

The 4m-long "sea dragon" is the first of its age to be found and provides a missing link in its evolution, a Rotunda Geology Group spokeswoman said.

The new species may be named after Mr Armstrong but scientists had yet to make that decision, she added.

Convention would mean its name would include the word "Armstrongi" as it has to become Latinised.

Academics from across the world are expected to study the remains of the creature when they go on show at the Scarborough Campus of the University of Hull on 26 July.

At the time of the discovery, amateur palaeontologist Mr Armstrong said he saw a single vertebra and then traced the fossil up the cliff.

This plesiosaur is a new one and will need a new name all of its own
Plesiosaur expert, Mark Evans

"I was pleased when I found one of the back bones at the bottom of the cliff, but when I traced the remains up to the main skeleton I was over the moon," he said.

Mark Evans, a plesiosaur expert from Leicester Museums, said it was one of the few plesiosaur skeletons from the early part of the Cretaceous period.

"We know about earlier plesiosaurs from the Jurassic period and ones from later on in the Cretaceous, so this new specimen fills a gap in our knowledge very nicely" he said.

"Although it looks like it belongs to a group of plesiosaurs with long necks, this plesiosaur is a new one, and will need a new name all of its own."

The skeleton will be displayed in the redeveloped Rotunda Museum in Scarborough when it reopens in 2007 and form a star exhibit in the Shell Geology Now Gallery.


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