Anglian Water seeks funding to secure the future of an ancient Sea Monster

Palaeontologists working on the Ichthyosaur skeleton found at Rutland Water

The scale of the 180 million years old ichthyosaur found at Rutland Water - Credit: Matthew Power Photography

 Anglia Water is to seek funding to ensure the long-term future of the giant fossilised remains of a  millions of years old "Sea Dragon" found at one of its reservoirs.

The Huntingdon-based water business is celebrating the internationally-important discovery of the ichthyosaur at Rutland Water - the biggest and most complete skeleton of its kind found in the UK, measuring more than 30ft long.

The story of the 180 million years old Sea Dragon featured on BBC Two’s Digging for Britain on January 11 and is now available on iPlayer.

Its remains, believed to be the first of its species found in the country, were discovered by a conservation team during work on an island at the reservoir and date back to the time when this region was under the sea.

Palaeontologists working on the Ichthyosaur skeleton found at Rutland Water

Palaeontologists working on the ichthyosaur skeleton found at Rutland Water - Credit: Matthew Power Photography

Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson said: “Rutland Water has a long list of previous, fascinating archaeological and palaeontological discoveries, but none more exciting than this.

“As a water company we have a role to bring environmental and social prosperity to our region. Which is why the correct preservation and conservation of something so scientifically valuable and part of our history, is as important to us as ensuring our pipes and pumps are fit and resilient for the future."

He said: "We also recognise the significance a find like this will have for the local community in Rutland. Our focus now is to secure the right funding to guarantee it’s legacy will last into the future.”

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Anglian Water will now seek heritage funding to preserve the remains.

Ichthyosaurs, which resemble dolphins in body shape, first appeared around 250 million years ago and became extinct 90 million years ago. They varied in size from one to more than 25 metres in length and the skull of the Rutland find weighed a tonne.

Impression of an ichthyosaur

An impression of what the 180 million years old ichthyosaur would have looked like - Credit: Anglian Water

Fossilised remains  have been discovered in the region from time to time and examples of a creature found at Warboys are in the Norris Museum, St Ives, together with a life-sized replica.

The team of palaeontologists will continue to work on the research and conservation of the Rutland find.