Peculiar 183 million-year-old fossil discovered on UK farm behind cow shed

An ancient fossilised fish has been uncovered on a farm in Gloucestershire.

The sea creature was found by fossil hunters Neville and Sally Hollingworth in the village of Kings Stanley. It was identified as a tuna-like predator called Pachycormus and is believed to be approximately 183 million years old.

It was preserved in almost life-like condition – with its mouth and eyes wide open – in one of the many limestone nodules that were found peppering the site.

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“It was a real surprise because, when you find fossils, most of the time they’ve been pressed flat through pressure over time,” Neville told the BBC.

“But when we prepared this one, to reveal its bones bit by bit, it was amazing because we suddenly realised its skull was uncrushed.

The fossil was discovered behind a cow shed on a piece of land where cattle were grazing.

Thankfully, landowner Adam Knight granted permission to the Hollingworths and a team of scientists from the University of Manchester to further excavate the area and carefully break open the other nodules to see what else they could find.

Incredibly, the group went on to unearth more archaeological treasures including fish, squid and the bones of two ichthyosaurs.

“We’ve got the whole food chain,” said palaeontologist Dean Lomax from University of Manchester..

He added: “So this Pachycormus would have been eating the smaller fish and squids. And then, the ichthyosaurs would have been eating the Pachycormus."

The newly discovered fossils are to be displayed at Stroud's Museum in the Park.

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