Dogwalker finds 65 million-year-old dinosaur skeleton on Somerset beach

The skeleton is believed to be of a prehistoric ichthyosaur. (Caters)
The skeleton is believed to be of a prehistoric ichthyosaur (Caters)

A 65 million-year-old dinosaur skeleton has been discovered on a Somerset beach by a man walking his dogs.

Jon Gopsill, 54, and his dogs Poppy and Sam discovered the prehistoric fossil while out on a routine walk on the beach near Stolford, Somerset last Saturday.

He initially found just a single bone, but after a bit of digging around in the sand it was found to be part of a 5.5-foot skeleton.

Jon believes the bones, believed to be of a prehistoric ichthyosaur, were brought to the surface after a week of rough seas on the south coast.

Jon Gopsill and his dogs found the skeleton. (Caters)
Jon Gopsill and his dogs found the skeleton (Caters)

Amateur archaeologist Jon has attempted to contact both Somerset Heritage and the Natural History Museum to report the find, but is still waiting for a response.

The ichthyosaur was a prehistoric porpoise-like sea mammal that lived during the Jurassic period.

Jon said: “I often go to the beach walking with my dogs and when the tide goes out we go out to the rocks because they like playing there.

“I have always been a bit of an amateur fossil hunter and I have found a good supply of ammonites, so I always keep my eyes open.


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“We were at the beach when I saw this thing and thought ‘what’s that?’ so I went a bit closer and thought ‘wow’.

“I thought it was obviously a fossilised sea creature, possibly an ichthyosaur.

“It doesn’t have a head, I have looked around but I can’t find it. It has been there for at least 65 million years.

The skeleton was unearthed after a week of rough seas on the south coast. (Caters)
The skeleton was unearthed after a week of rough seas (Caters)

“I realised straight that it was amazing, museum quality stuff, as soon as I saw it I knew I found something special.

"I was just blown away to see it there. It really is incredible that it has survived for such a long time and is now just there for everyone to see.

‘I knew I found something special’

Surprisingly the next day Jon went again on a walk and this time, his cockapoo Poppy brought him back a stone that turned out to be a fossil too.

He added: “I couldn’t believe it, it’s stunning – I’ve taught her what fossils are but I didn’t expect her to bring me one.

“My wife says it was just luck- I think having had the stormy weather recently has washed a lot of mud out so the rocks were a little bit more exposed.

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