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Amateur fossil collector reveals most complete Plesiosaur find in Wales

October 21, 2016:

byAnthony Lewis

AN AMATEUR fossil collector has discovered the most complete set of bones of a dinosaur ever found in Wales.

Jonathan Bow has revealed his latest new find of a Plesiosaur fossil which he came across on a beach near Penarth at around Christmas time in 2014.

He previously discovered a seven foot Ichthyosaur skeleton on the Penarth shoreline back in 2014.

Bad weather had shifted around a vast amount of pebbles and exposed new rocks for him to investigate.

The fossil itself is from the lower Jurassic period and is the most complete one found in Wales to date.

At that time, Mr Bow said, south Wales was a series of small warm tropical islands surrounded with a shallow sea which was inhabited by Ichthyosaurs, ammonites, primitive fish and the occasional Plesiosaur.

When he found it , the fossil was sitting in a thin band of shale which was on top of a lump of limestone that had fallen out of the cliff.

Mr Bow said: "All you could see was some white items on the edge of the rock which were the bones.

"The whole block was too heavy to move and so I tried to find the weak spot between the shale layer and the limestone layer and then used my hammer and chisel to try and prize the shale away from the limestone.

"Unfortunately this shale is very sticky and so the fossil ended up in about 200 pieces.

"I then spent the next two years firstly gluing the fossil and surrounding matrix back together, then preparing it to show the detail and then lastly filling in any missing bones which were lost."

He said that it is quite common to find individual bones of these marine reptiles along the south Wales coast, but more complete items are more rare due to the wave action in shallow waters that helped to scatter the bones.

He added: "Some Plesiosaur experts looked at it earlier in the year and they think it is possibly a species called Avalonnectes which is a type of plesiosaur called a small rhomaleosaurid.

"I believe there is only one other specimen of this species in the UK which is from Somerset.

The adult plesiosaur would have been about 2m long and Mr Bow managed to find a lower jaw with scattered inch long teeth, the ribs and rear pelvic region with elements of the paddle or flipper.

Mr Bow has found, collected and prepared around 500 specimens for his paleontology contacts to examine and has donated items to Cardiff museum.



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