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Ancestor of Loch Ness monster is unearthed

By John von Radowitz

A long-lost relative of Nessie may have been found in Scotland.

This monster lived 170 million years ago - not in Loch Ness, but a warm shallow sea around what is now the Isle of Skye.

It has been identified as a new species of ichthyosaur, a large dolphin-like marine reptile that grew up to 14 feet long.

Scientists studied fossil fragments of skulls, teeth, vertebrae and an upper arm bone dug up in Skye over the past 50 years.

Several of the fossils came from ichthyosaurs, including one previously unknown species, named Dearcmhara shawcrossi.

Dearcmhara, pronounced "jarkvara", is Scottish Gaelic for marine lizard. Shawcrossi honours amateur fossil hunter Brian Shawcross, who found the remains.

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