Clip | Attenborough and the Sea Dragon - Discovering a New Ichthyosaur

Witness the discovery of a new ichthyosaur fossil, complete with fossilized skin, but strangely missing a head.

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At last, they find signs of the rest of the skeleton.

'Lots and lots of bone in there. Ribs and all sorts of stuff.'

And there's another particularly exciting discovery.

'It's the skin!'

They found signs of fossilized skin.

'Rare isn't it?'

'Yeah, very rare.'

The blocks that contain bones and skin can't be thrown down like the other rocks.

They must be carefully strapped up and gently lowered.

'It's the first block down, few more to go, but if they go like that I'll be very pleased.'

Two weeks after they started work, I go down again to check on progress.

Chris shows me what they've already collected.

'So, lots over here. If we give it a wash.'

'Ah, well I can see something there.'

[Laughter] 'Theres more of this, yeah.'

'Here you can see glinting in the sunlight sections through the backbone the vertebral column.'

'Wow.'

'And these are the ribs that are still attached to the vertebrae.'

'And these are the neurals that come off the spines..' 'Spines off the top of the back?'

'Yeah. But they've actually got skin preserved on them.'

'No, really?'

'Yeah fossilized...' 'Can you see that here?'

'Well that's the very black; you can see it on the impression as well.'

This is great news, but something puzzles me.

'Would the head have been on this side or that side?'

'Most likely here in this next slab.'

'And it's not there?'

'Not so far.'

'Oh boy.'

'How many more tons to go?'

'Ugh!' [Laughter]