Exhibit of giant fossil

In summer 2007, scientists at the Norwegian Polar Institute participated in the excavation of a 240 million years old fossil of an Ichthyosaur in Svalbard. The fossil is part of an exhibition at the Tromsø Museum, where the general public may have a closer look at the old giant.

Kjempeøgle

Illustration: John Sibbick

Kjempefossil

A team from the Tromsø Museum, the University of Tübigen and the Norwegian Polar Institute has excavated the giant fossil in Svalbard. Photo: Dierk Blomeier / Norwegian Polar Institute

The Ichthyosaur fossil is approximately 240 million years old and one of the largest reptiles ever found in Svalbard. The Ichthyosaur measures 6 metres in length, but the head and parts of the upper body are missing due to erosion. It is estimated that the creature was about 10 meters long when alive, which is exceptionally big for a marine lizard.

In July 2007, a team from the Tromsø Museum, the University of Tübigen and the Norwegian Polar Institute excavated the giant fossil in Svalbard. The fieldwork was headed by the project leader, Dr. Dierk Blomeier of the Norwegian Polar Institute. The excavations started already in the summer of 2006, but because of the unforeseen large size, the excavations were not completed until last summer.

The fossil was firstly discovered by a hunter in 2001. It was located in a slope by the coast and exposed to erosion and damage, and it was decided to preserve it to ensure and maintain important scientific information and communication to the general public through the means of i.e. an exhibit at the Tromsø Museum. Tromsø Museum took on the responsibility for preparation, conservation and exhibition of the fossil.

Scientists think the fossil is an Ichthyosaurus specimen, and that it most probably belongs to the genus of Merriamosaurus.