Found in a reservoir in the UK’s Rutland: a dolphin-like monster about half the size of a tennis court.


In February 2021, Joe Davis, leader of the United Kingdom’s Rutland Conservation Team, was routinely draining a lagoon island for re-landscaping on the grounds he manages.

A few odd-looking clay pipes protruded from the mud below. Upon closer inspection, he realized these weren’t pipes at all, they were vertebrae.


Soon, Davis would come to understand that he’d stumbled upon a 180-million-year-old, 32-foot (10 meters) ichthyosaur — often referred to as a sea dragon — with a 2,000-pound (1 ton) skull.

Discovered in a reservoir in the county of Rutland, in the English East Midlands, the specimen is the largest and most complete ichthyosaur fossil ever found in the UK, measuring nearly 33 feet in length.

Marine reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs, ichthyosaurs resembled dolphins in body shape. They became extinct around 90 million years ago, after first appearing 250 million years ago.