Researchers identify an ancient Scottish sea monster

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Scotland’s Isle of Skye, called “Scotland’s Dinosaur Isle,” has produced some of the world’s oldest dinosaur bones, and even the world’s smallest dino footprint. And once again, the Isle of Skye has come up big in the fossil department, this time with a sea monster the size of a motorboat that inevitably prompted references to the folkloric Loch Ness Monster.

“Tantalizing bones and footprints of dinosaurs have been found in several Early-Middle Jurassic units, making Scotland one of the rare places in the world to yield dinosaurs from this under-sampled time,” wrote lead author Stephen Brusatte in a study published on Sunday in the Scottish Journal of Geology. But the sea monster, which lived around 170 million years ago, was a little bit different than those other finds. “It looks like a dinosaur, but it isn’t technically a dinosaur,” Brusatte told NPR. “Dinosaurs didn’t live in the ocean. And it’s the first of these sea-living, enormous, colossal top-of-the food-chain reptiles that’s ever been found in Scotland. It was about motorboat size … about 14 or 15 feet long.”

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