Revealed, 10ft terror that stalked our seas… the Melksham monster
A FEARSOME prehistoric sea crocodile which patrolled our waters in the Jurassic era has been identified by scientists.
The 10ft long creature has been dubbed the ‘Melksham monster’ after the historic Wiltshire town where its fossil was found.
Academics have established that it roamed 163 million years ago in the warm, shallow seas which covered much of what is now Europe. The predator, which lived at the same time as dinosaurs, used powerful jaws and huge, serrated teeth to feed on prey like squid.
Scientists had to resort to brute force to examine the sample because it had become enclosed in extremely hard rock and calcite during fossilisation.
Mark Graham, senior fossil preparator at the Natural History Museum, said the work took weeks with carbon steel tipped chisels and grinding wheels encrusted with industrial diamonds.
The fossil of the croc named Leldraan melkshamensis has been in the museum’s archives since 1875. The latest study found that it is a new species based on its distinctive skull, lower jaw and teeth.
Scientists also found that the predators evolved more than six million years earlier than thought.
The study in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology was carried out in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh.
Jurassic giant: An artist’s impression of a prehistoric croc