A Hull man is in shock after finding a 200 million-year-old petrified reptile jawbone from the Jurassic period while on a day trip out with his friend.
Mark Kemp was on a fossil hunt with his friend when they encountered the jawbone between Mappleton and Cowden on the Holderness coast.
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When Mark saw it, he immediately knew it was a special find, and the couple agreed that he should have it and prepare it.
It has now been confirmed by an award-winning expert that the jawbone, with incredibly well-preserved large teeth, is from a sea reptile that roamed the oceans nearly 200 million years ago.
Mark Kemp, 34, said: “I found it with my friend two or three months ago.
“It’s very rare to find something like this in East Yorkshire, and to my knowledge it’s the very first of its kind.
“The teeth are huge, you do not hear much about that kind being found. Some of the collectors I have shown it to have never seen such large teeth.”
It has been identified by the leading marine reptile paleontologist Dr. Dean Lomax as belonging to a Temnodontosaurus.
This was one of the larger species of an ichthyosaur, a type of marine reptile.
The jawbone found as a glacial erratic on the Holderness coast dates to about 180 million years ago.
Mark Kemp said he was also informed by Dr. Lomax that the fossil was “one of the best examples of this species that came from Yorkshire”.
Based on the size of the jaw and teeth, it is also estimated that this Temnodontosaurus had a two-meter long skull and was generally at least 40 feet long – making it a full-size adult to which the jawbone belonged.
Mark is a well-known collector of objects and was introduced to fossil hunting eight years ago.
He has not looked back since – “I have a garage full of fossils”.
He has even turned part of his hobby into his livelihood.
Mark has a special workshop in his home in Bransholme, where he carefully prepares fossils found and sent in by people, improves their appearance and helps preserve them.
He also runs Instagram and YouTube accounts titled ‘The Yorkshire Fossil Hunter’, where he films his fossil hunting businesses.
“It will be in my collection,” Mark said of the future of the extraordinary dinosaur jawbone.
“I’m sent an email to some museums to show it for six weeks or so.
“But otherwise I keep it. It was about to go on for 120 hours preparing it, so a real love job.”
Fossil preparation usually does not take that long for a single fossil piece, but because of the jawbone bone blocks, Mark had to be even more delicate to work on it.
The name Temnodontosaurus is derived from the Greek word for “cutting tooth lizard”.
The species had large eyes, which with a diameter of about 20 cm (7.9 inches) are thought to be the largest of a known animal.
As shown by Mark’s sample, its conical teeth filled its jaw in a continuous groove.
It is believed to have roamed in the deeper sea in the open sea.
Temnodontosaurus was an apex predator that hunted extinct marine mollusks known as ammonites and is also thought to have fed on vertebrates.
It could close its jaws with over three tons of force – twice as much biting force as a modern saltwater crocodile.
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