Video: Fossil of pre-historic sea monster unearthed in Tuddenham St Martin
- Credit: Archant
A bone belonging to a sea-creature dubbed “the most fearsome predator that ever lived” has been found in the garden of a retired banker in Tuddenham St Martin.
John Lambert, a former merchant banker who has lived in Suffolk for nearly 30 years, discovered the fossilised bone in 1997 when builders dug a trench in his garden to construct a boundary wall.
Although he believed the bone to be significant due to its weight and size, it lingered in John’s work shed for another 16 years before he brought it to the Ipswich Museum to be examined.
Now the museum has confirmed that the bone belonged to a Pliosaur, an enormous reptile which hunted the oceans between 250 and 65 million years ago.
The upper limb bone weighs seven kilos and is 42cms long.
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Pliosaurs populated the world’s oceans at the same time as the dinosaurs. With sharp pointed teeth for feeding on prey, some of the species were up to 20m long.
They had a long streamlined body with a short, tapering tail, relatively long neck and four paddle-like limbs.
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Marine reptiles aren’t animals you’d expect to find in Suffolk, according to a report by Ipswich Museum, however it’s possible the bone was deposited along with glacial clays by large sheets of ice from northern and western Britain.
In 1959 part of a Pliosaur was ploughed up in a field in Wrentham and later that year two vertebrae were found at Mill Hill, Capel St Mary. Then in 2009 a dorsal vertebrae was found seven-foot deep at Theberton Airfield.
John said it was “pure chance” that he discovered the bone, but he knew immediately it shouldn’t be discarded.
“It looked too special for that. It did look like a really big bone that was tremendously heavy and I had earmarked that I would take it for identification, but then life gets on top of you doesn’t it?” he said.
“Then one day I thought, what happened to that bone and I found it in the workshop. I phoned the museum and they said ‘bring it in, we’d love to have a look at it.’
“It’s rather fun, I’ve been here 29 years, we’ve got eight acres of ground, we are quite keen on the gardening side and I can honestly say we’ve found nothing whatsoever of any kind of value apart from rubbish, so it’s really fun to have found this.”
John has indicated that Ipswich Museum would be a fitting home for the fossil.
“It probably will go to the museum. Although it’s not from Suffolk, in that it wasn’t swimming around here, it is part of Suffolk’s heritage.”