The world’s biggest bite!
Everything about this fossil is amazing! It is the head of a pliosaur, the scariest sea creature that has ever lived. The head is 2.4m long, but the entire animal would have been up to 15m long – even longer than a double-decker bus! From fin tip to fin tip it would have been about 10m wide.
It was discovered by local collector, Kevan Sheehan over a five year period. One day he found three massive pieces of bone, then he went back time and time again to the same spot to recover the rest as it was washed out of a landslide.
It was acquired by Dorset County Museum through the Heritage Lottery Fund Collecting Cultures programme led by Dorset County Council’s Museum Service. It was prepared (cleaned) over an 18 month period by Scott Moore-Fay. During that time, it was put through the UK’s biggest CT scanner at Southampton University to explore the detail of the inside of the bone structure. Work is still ongoing with that data, and we expect some amazing discoveries and insights, including details of the sensory structures preserved inside the bones.
The pliosaur was also studied by a group of palaeontologists led by Bristol University and described as a species new to science in 2012. The name Pliosaurus kevani was selected in recognition of the incredible efforts of Kevan Sheehan in rescuing the specimen from certain destruction.
And finally, it is the best preserved pliosaur skull in the world and has helped in a fundamental revision of the genus Pliosaurus.
Find out more on the reptiles page.