11-year-old's beach find may have been Earth's largest aquatic reptile, scientists say.  

A father-daughter fossil-collecting team uncovered a gigantic jawbone on a Somerset beach that belongs to a new species that may be Earth's largest marine reptile.  

The blue whale, which may grow to 110 feet (33.5 meters), is the largest animal on Earth, according to scientists. However, the 202 million-year-old ichthyosaur, or “fish lizard,” may have been larger.  

Surangular jawbones, which were long, curved bones at the top of the lower jaw behind the teeth, were over 6.5 feet (2 meters) long in ichthyosaurs.  

Ichthyotitan severnensis, meaning “giant fish lizard of the Severn” in Latin, was about 82 feet (25 meters) long, or two city buses, according to researchers.  

In May 2020, Braunton, England residents Justin and Ruby Reynolds found the jawbone fragments on the beach in Blue Anchor, Somerset, while searching for fossils. Ruby, 11, found the first bone piece, then she and her dad found more.  

Marcello Perillo, a PhD student of evolutionary paleobiology at the University of Bonn in Germany, says the astonishing find may illuminate the prehistoric giant's role in evolution and its ocean ecology. He coauthored a PLOS One paper on the discovery published Wednesday.  

The Reynoldses contacted Dr. Dean Lomax, a paleontologist at the University of Manchester and 1851 Research Fellow in Bristol, UK, after thinking the fossil find might be significant. Recent discoveries by ichthyosaur expert Lomax include numerous new species.  

The specimen intrigued Lomax, who contacted fossil collector Paul de la Salle, who had uncovered a large ichthyosaur jawbone that looked similar in May 2016. De la Salle found the first jawbone in Lilstock, 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) from Devon.  

The April 12, 2024 Edition of Your Daily FinanceScope 

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