Fossil Hunters Unearth Gigantic Jaws and Teeth of 180-Million-Year-Old Ichthyosaur in Holderness, Yorkshire – Astonishing Find

While scouring the glacial till that comprises England’s eastern coastal cliffs, a pair of Yorkshire fossil hunters made a colossal discovery some 180 million years in the making.

Late last summer, Mark Kemp, 34, a self-taught, professional fossil finder and preparator, and a friend who shares the pastime were exploring the rugged cliffline of Holderness, northwest of Hull, between the towns of Mappleton and Cowden.

This rugged section of coast, comprised of unsorted sedimentary deposit from long-melted, once-massive glaciers, is known to yield the bones of dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles. Kemp’s companion that day stumbled on a glacial erratic—a hunk of exotic rock deposited from elsewhere—with a fossil that looked particularly promising.

 (Top-Left) Mark Kemp; (Bottom-Left) A glacial erratic containing the fossilized partial jaw section of a temnodontosaurus; (Right) A section of cliffline in Holderness, Yorkshire. (Courtesy of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/TheYorkshireFossilHunter/featured">Mark Kemp</a>)(Top-Left) Mark Kemp; (Bottom-Left) A glacial erratic containing the fossilized partial jaw section of a temnodontosaurus; (Right) A section of cliffline in Holderness, Yorkshire. (Courtesy of Mark Kemp)

“My friend shouts me over asking for my opinion on something, as soon as I saw the rock in question, I knew it was something special,” Kemp told The Epoch Times. “I immediately knew there was bone and teeth inside and we both agreed the block should be taken by me and prepped immediately.”

In his workshop in Hull, Kemp painstakingly etched away the rock millimeter by millimeter to reveal enormous conical teeth and what he learned was the partial jaw section of a temnodontosaurus—a marine reptile of the Jurassic Period, predating even the dinosaurs.

In addition to its massive teeth, this apex predatory reptile of the sea possessed a robust, elongated snout; extraordinarily large eyes for hunting; forefins and hindfins of about equal size, for steering; and a triangular dorsal fin. Its vertically aligned tail was its main propulsion.

 A section of fossilized jawbone and teeth of an adult temnodontosaurus. (Courtesy of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/TheYorkshireFossilHunter/featured">Mark Kemp</a>)A section of fossilized jawbone and teeth of an adult temnodontosaurus. (Courtesy of Mark Kemp)

 Illustration of a temnodontosaurus species known as an ichthyosaur, dating back to the Jurassic Period some 180 million years ago. (Illustration - Dotted Yeti/Shutterstock)Illustration of a temnodontosaurus species known as an ichthyosaur, dating back to the Jurassic Period some 180 million years ago. (Illustration – Dotted Yeti/Shutterstock)

The name “temnodontosaurus” itself from Greek translates to “cutting-tooth lizard.” And based on this specimen’s teeth and jaw size, it was estimated to have had a skull two meters long and would have been a full-sized adult.

 Various stages of fossil preparation by Mark Kemp. (Courtesy of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/TheYorkshireFossilHunter/featured">Mark Kemp</a>)Various stages of fossil preparation by Mark Kemp. (Courtesy of Mark Kemp)

Kemp jokingly added, “My collection has grown in the past three years at a rate which is a little scary and soon I am going to be in a situation where I need a bigger garage.”

A few more examples of Kemp’s fossil preparator work:

 (Courtesy of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/TheYorkshireFossilHunter/featured">Mark Kemp</a>)(Courtesy of Mark Kemp)

 (Courtesy of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/TheYorkshireFossilHunter/featured">Mark Kemp</a>)(Courtesy of Mark Kemp)

 (Courtesy of <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/TheYorkshireFossilHunter/featured">Mark Kemp</a>)(Courtesy of Mark Kemp)

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