A very rare fossil of plesiosaurus discovered in a cellar

A paleontologist presents the fossil of a mandible belonging to the plesiosaurus discovered at Tuffalun: LOIC VENANCE
A paleontologist presents the fossil of a mandible belonging to the plesiosaurus discovered at Tuffalun: LOIC VENANCE

The fossil of a large marine reptile 90 million years old and rare in Europe, recently extracted from a private troglodyte cellar in Tuffalun (Maine-et-Loire, France), was presented Thursday 4 May 2017 at the Museum of Natural Sciences D’Angers and hailed as an „exceptional discovery“.

The fossilized bones of this predator of the family of plesiosaurs, large marine reptiles that lived during the dinosaurs’ time in the seas and oceans, were found in 2013, after falling from the ceiling of a private troglodyte cellar, explained Benoît Mellier, in charge of the collections of the Museum of Angers .

These bones – a 51 cm long femur, „pieces of limbs of a wrist or a foot“, a „series of small phalanges that constituted a swimming palette“, but also a complete mandible (one meter long) – were extracted in the fall and reported in February 2017 at the Museum of Angers, where they will be a subject of a complete paleontological study.

The discovery of this specimen, which was probably five to six meters long, is “ exceptional and will interest all researchers working on marine reptiles around the world, “ said Peggy Vincent, a paleontologist at the National Museum of History Naturalist of Paris, specialist of marine reptiles of the secondary era.

„This animal was found in levels that date back 90 million years ago and from that age, in Europe, for the group of pleesiosaurs, we knew nothing or just some small isolated elements“, she said.

„In the world, over the entire period of the Mesozoic, that is to say from 250 million years to 65 million years, there are only about a hundred species of plesiosaurs which are known, Is virtually nothing, so every discovery is important to try to trace their history and evolution, to understand how they have appeared“, she added