A “previously unknown species of dinosaur” may have been discovered at a quarry site near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. The five and half metre long plesiosaur, nicknamed Eve, was unearthed in November 2014, after palaeontologists noticed a fragment of bone sticking up from the clay.
Plesiosaurs were a group of Jurassic marine dinosaurs, and this particular specimen is thought to be 165 million years old. The fossil was donated to Oxford University’s Natural History Museum in order to determine whether this plesiosaur is in fact a new specimen, and to remove the skull from a block of clay. The skeleton reveals that this plesiosaur had a 2.5 metre long neck, a barrel-shaped body , four flippers and a short tail.
The dig was carried out by the Oxford Working Clay Group, led by Dr Carl Harrington. The dinosaur was discovered in the Must Farm Quarry, the site of a Bronze Age settlement, known as “Britain’s Pompeii.” Harrington described the discovery as “one of those absolute ‘wow’ moments.”
600 pieces of bone were found, and the Working Clay Group spent more than 400 hours cleaning the bones and assembling them to form the plesiosaur’s skeleton. The anatomical features of Eve have only ever been observed in specimens half her size, leading palaeontologists to believe that the fossil belongs to a previously undiscovered species.
Regardless of whether or not the specimen proves to be a new species, the fossil will remain in the museum after formal identification and removal of the skull, and will be used for “research, education and display.”
Photo: The Telegraph