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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
Sea reptile fossil found on beach
The fossilised remains of a plesiosaur found in Somerset
The fossil was excavated and removed from the site
The fossilised remains of a prehistoric reptile have been found by a fisherman at a Somerset nature reserve.

Nick Collard discovered the bones of the plesiosaur - a 1.5 metre-long sea creature which lived 188 million years ago - on the beach at Bridgwater Bay.

The specimen was excavated from the site in four blocks before being cleaned and dated by specialists from the Natural History Museum in London.

It will go on temporary display at Taunton Museum this month.

Rare specimen

The museum is now trying to raise 15,000 to preserve the fossil properly and put it on permanent display.

The fossilised remains of a plesiosaur found in Somerset
The fossil has gone on display at Taunton Museum

Mr Collard said: "I regularly walk this stretch of beach and had not noticed it before - the tide must have washed away some of the silt to reveal the fossil.

"I rushed home to consult the encyclopaedia and Taunton Museum later confirmed my once-in-a-lifetime discovery."

Dennis Parsons, geologist at the museum, said: "Without Mr Collard's keen observation and quick-thinking, this rare and scientifically important specimen would not have been rescued.

"Plesiosaurs are very rare fossils so you would be very lucky to find even a single bone or tooth - this one was fully exposed and beautifully preserved."




SEE ALSO:
Giant sea fossil unearthed
30 Dec 02  |  Science/Nature
Dinosaur goes on show
13 Dec 01  |  England


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