Giant Pliosaur Skull Unveiled in the UK (Videos)

July 10, 2011 5:08 pm Last Updated: July 16, 2011 2:30 am

David Attenborough Unveils the Gigantic Skull


The 2.4-meter-long skull of a 155-million-year-old pliosaur has been unveiled by David Attenborough at the UK’s Dorset County Museum.

Pliosaurs were top predators—marine reptiles with paddle-like limbs and long snouts lined with teeth. They swam the oceans during the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods, preying upon fish and other marine reptiles.

"We are now told this skull is 95 percent complete, and probably one of the largest and certainly one of the most well-preserved and complete pliosaurs ever found anywhere in the world,” said Richard Edmonds from Dorset County Council, according to BBC News.

It was found in a cliff over several years by Kevan Sheehan, a local collector, who kept going back and retrieving more pieces.

"It was sheer luck—I was sitting on the beach, and saw three pieces,” Sheehan told the BBC. “I had no idea what they were, but I proceeded to drag them back."

Experts estimate that the beast could have measured up to 18 meters long from snout to tail tip, based on the size of its skull.

The enormous eye sockets sit on top of the head for binocular vision, and the powerful jaws and sharp teeth would have delivered a fatal bite.

"This is an iconic specimen—one of the most exciting we have seen in years,” said palaeontologist Richard Forrest, according to the BBC.

"It was probably the most fearsome predator that ever lived,” he added. “Just thinking about it raises the hairs on the back of your neck."