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Archive for April 10, 2013

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Marine Reptile Fossil Discovered by Australian Tourist

Marine Reptile Fossil

An Odd Way to find a Fossilised Ichthyosaur Stumble over It

For an elderly Australian tourist on a trip to the northwest of Queensland, nipping into the bushes to relive himself, a sort of unscheduled toilet stop has surprising consequences as he stumbled over the exposed remains of a 100 million year old marine reptile. It is certainly an odd way to discover the fossilised remains of an ancient marine reptile.

This part of the Australian outback is well-known for marine reptile fossils, with animals such as the Pliosaur Kronosaurus, plus Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs having been excavated from the mid Cretaceous aged sediments.

Explaining that this part of Australia was once a shallow, tropical sea, curator of the local natural history museum at nearby Richmond, Paul Stumkat commented that the elderly couple went to an area where the local council had developed a couple of quarries for the extraction of stone to provide material for road building. It was a great place to look for prehistoric animal fossil remains.

Retired Couple Find Fossils

The retired couple were a few miles past the quarry when the elderly gentleman required his unscheduled pit stop and as he went out for a pee, he stumbled over the remains of an Ichthyosaur, an animal that lived during the time of the dinosaurs.

Ichthyosaurs Fish Lizards of the Mesozoic

Ichthyosaurs, otherwise known as fish lizards were the first reptiles to fully adapt to a life in a marine environment and most forms never ventured onto land, not even to lay eggs, as they were able to give birth to live young (viviparous). Superficially similar to dolphins, these marine reptiles evolved in the early Triassic and survived for much of the Mesozoic, finally becoming extinct prior to the end of the Cretaceous. They were superbly well adapted to life in a marine environment and evolved into many different genera, some such as Shonisaurus reached lengths in excess of 15 metres or more.

Unusual Way to Find Fossil Material

The fossil discovered by the elderly gentleman in such an unusual way represents a single individual and it is estimated to be approximately 4 metres in length. The species has yet to be confirmed, but according to local experts it is likely to be excavated over the next few months and put on display at the Richmond museum.

When asked what he thought about the unusual way in which the Ichthyosaur fossil was discovered, Mr Stumkat stated that he could stop and find such an amazing animal at every wayside halt he visited whilst on holiday in Australia, but this discovery was a chance find, a lucky break that was unlikely to be repeated.

It may be one of the more unusual methods for finding fossils but thanks to a weak bladder another fossilised marine reptile has been discovered.

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