The remains of a Loch Ness-style creature that lived in the English Channel 200 million years ago have been found on a beach.
Archaeologists have spent months piecing together dozens of old bones found encased in limestone on Britain’s Jurassic Coast by a fossil hunter.
After nearly completing the jigsaw-like puzzle they have disclosed that the skeleton, which is 70 per cent complete, is that of a 12ft long plesiosaur.
The marine reptile resembled the Loch Ness monster with its long thin neck and tail, four large flippers and razor-sharp teeth.
Plesiosaurs existed during the Jurassic period 150 to 200 million years ago when what is now the Channel was a shallow, tropical sea.
Detailed examination of the bones revealed teeth marks from where a predatory dinosaur would have feasted on the carcass of the “lake monster”.
Richard Edmonds, science manager for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, said: “They are rare. There are only 10 known examples of complete or even partial skeletons of this species.
“I have been doing this for 30-odd years and I have only ever found the odd bone.”
The remains were discovered by Tracey Marler under rocks on Monmouth Beach near Lyme Regis, Dorset.
She first found a single bone in limestone. She and partner Chris Moore, an expert in fossils, returned to the scene and they found four more bones.
After further excavation about 150 vertebrae bones and parts of its skull and jaw which had one tooth in it were uncovered.
“It came out in pieces but you could clearly see how it looked. The tail bone was in position,” said Mr Moore.
“Some of the back bones were completely in place where they should be and the neck bone was there as well. You could see some of the bones had actually been chewed up a bit.
“There are teeth marks and you can see how the skeleton had been torn apart by some other nasty marine reptile.
“Plesiosaurs lived in shallow, warm tropical seas. They had long necks and sharp teeth and would have chased after and eaten fish.
“Their predator would have been the ichthyosaur which was carnivorous.”
Natural England worked closely with the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site team to carefully extract the fossils.
It is hoped the skeleton will go on public display at the Lyme Regis Museum.
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