Researchers discover first fossils of prehistoric sea creature in Spain

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FOSSIL FIND: The leptocleidus was a small type of plesiosaur. Photo credit: Shutterstock


RESEARCHERS have found the remains of a sea creature in a Valencia Region quarry which prove it lived in Spain at the same time as the dinosaurs.

Palaeontologists from Madrid’s National Distance Education University (UNED) said in a new study that the fossilised remains of a leptocleidus were found near Morella in Castellon Province.

The species is a type of plesiosaur thought to have lived in a delta that existed there at the time, the researchers said in the Cretaceous Research journal.

Adan Perez-Garcia, a co-author of the study, said the find was “exceptional”.

“It is the first reference of these animals in the Iberian Peninsula,” Perez-Garcia said.

The creature was not a dinosaur but co-existed with them around 125 million years ago during the Lower Cretaceous period. It was previously thought to have only lived in what is now Britain, Australia and South Africa.

Fossils indicate the leptocleidus was no more than three metres long, with a short neck and a triangular head. They lived in shallow waters such as the mouths of large rivers near the coast.

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