• STV
  • MySTV

Rare Jurassic Skye fossil one of 'most important' found in Scotland

The Storr Lochs Monster has been dubbed the crown jewel in Scotland’s Jurassic history.

The skeleton of a sea-living reptile 'monster' which ruled the oceans around the same time as huge dinosaurs thundered across the land has been unveiled.

The fossilised skeleton of this dolphin-like reptile from 170 million years ago is said to be the most complete that has ever been found in Scotland.

Named the Storr Lochs Monster, the fossil was discovered on the Isle of Skye in 1966 by a local power station manager and has been preserved by National Museums Scotland ever since.

In the last few months, experts have been able to clean up and extract the fossil from the rock which has been encasing it for millions of years.

These exceptionally rare bones will now be studied in detail by experts.
These exceptionally rare bones will now be studied in detail by experts. STV

Dr Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, said these exceptionally rare bones are "one of a kind."

"I think this is one of the most important fossils which has ever been found in Scotland," Steve says.

"I think when a lot of people think of fossils they are not going to think of Scotland, but actually there's great fossils from across the country and this one is one of the most important because it is so complete.

A team of experts extracted the fossil from the rock which has been encasing it for millions of years.
A team of experts extracted the fossil from the rock which has been encasing it for millions of years. SWNS

"What we have had before is a few bones here and there, but what we have now is almost a complete skeleton so it is one of a kind.

"Their bones are exceptionally rare in Scotland, which makes this specimen one of the crown jewels of Scottish fossils."

This reptile would have prowled the ocean 170 million years ago.
This reptile would have prowled the ocean 170 million years ago. STV

He adds: "Scotland is one of the best places in the world to find fossils from the middle part of the Jurassic period.

"So when you think of Jurassic Park, there are only some places in the world that actually have fossils from that time. Scotland is one of them and this one is one of the best fossils from here.

"So that just shows how critical this fossil is in helping us better understand that world 170 million years ago when there were huge dinosaurs thundering across the land and these reptile monsters swimming in the ocean."

The fossil has been unveiled to the public for the first time 50 years after it was discovered.
The fossil has been unveiled to the public for the first time 50 years after it was discovered. SWNS

Dr Brusatte says these reptiles, from the ichthyosaurs group, were "close cousins to dinosaurs" and would have lived in the water all the time, even giving birth in the ocean. They would have been around four metres in length with fins, flippers and a a pointed head which had hundreds of cone-shaped teeth to allow them to feed on fish and squid.

"These were remarkable creatures, totally unlike anything that is alive today. It is these kinds of animals we want the people to Scotland to know," Steve says.

"There are rumours of sea monsters and lake monsters in Scotland today but there were real sea dragons that lived here during the time of dinosaurs."

Skye's Jurassic history

Skye is one of the few places in the world where fossils from the middle Jurassic period can be found and has been referred to as "Scotland's dinosaur island".

The Storr Lochs Monster fossil was discovered on a Skye beach near the SSE Storr Lochs Power Station by the facility's manager, Norrie Gillies, who died in 2011 aged 93, who spotted the fossil while out for a Sunday afternoon walk.

His son Allan Gillies joined experts from the museum, the University of Edinburgh and SSE on September 5 to reveal the fossil to the public for the first time.

Allan has fond memories of experts cutting out the fossil from the rock in blocks when he was just six years old after his father contacted National Museums Scotland to tell them about his discovery.

Allan Gillies' father stumbled upon the fossil while out a Sunday afternoon walk in Skye.
Allan Gillies' father stumbled upon the fossil while out a Sunday afternoon walk in Skye. SWNS

"It is a proud moment to see it revealed," Allan says. "Dad's aim was that it was not the sort of thing you keep in a back garden and should be for the general public to see it.

"Now that it is out of the rock, they will be able to study the science behind it and learn more about it - it's fantastic."

People will be able to view the fossil at a number of locations, including SSE's new visitor centre at the Pitlochry Dam, which opens in a few months' time before it returns to the lab for further research.

Here, a team of palaeontologists from the University of Edinburgh and National Museums Scotland will carry out a detailed examination of the fossil in a bid to form a clearer picture of the fossil.

It is hoped this will help to reveal how ichthyosaurs evolved during the middle Jurassic period, an era long been shrouded in mystery owing to a lack of fossil evidence from the time.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.