Excerpt 
A 14- long, dolphin-like ichthyosaur would have swum the warm, shallow near Scotland during the Jurassic period, according to scientists who have an entirely species from a “very special” set of bones found by an amateur enthusiast in 1959 and given to Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum.

The largest group of palaeontologists ever to have worked together in Scotland believe fossil fragments of skulls, teeth, vertebrae and an upper arm bone would have belonged to a previously unknown type of long-extinct aquatic animal, named the Dearcmhara shawcrossi after Brian Shawcross, who recovered the fossils from the island’s Bearreraig Bay.

A photo of a group of people standing around a table in a lab with rocks on it

The PalAlba group behind the identification of the new species© Bill Crighton

partly in homage to the history of the Hebrides and Skye, much of which was underwater during Jurassic times. Some reports have likened the predator to an ancestor of the Loch Ness monster.

“During the time of dinosaurs, the waters of Scotland were prowled by big reptiles the size of motor boats,” explained Dr Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study.

“Their fossils are very , and only now, for the first time, we’ve found a new species that was uniquely Scottish.

“Without the generosity of the collector who donated the bones to a museum instead of keeping them or selling them, we would have never known that this animal existed.

“We are honoured to name the new species after Mr Shawcross and will do the same if any other collectors wish to donate new specimens.”

The creature was near the top of the food chain 170 ago, preying on fish and other reptiles during an age when Skye was joined to the rest of the UK as of a large island positioned between landmasses that gradually drifted apart to become Europe and North America.

“Not only is this a very special , but it also marks the of a major new collaboration involving some of the most eminent palaeontologists in Scotland,” said Dr Nick Fraser, of National Museums Scotland.