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Did you discover an extinct sea monster at work today?

In February 2021, a landscaper working on the Rutland reservoir got more than he bargained for when he unearthed a prehistoric 10-metre hidden sea dragon.

Confirmed to be the fossilised remains of an ichthyosaur, the 10-metre-long sea predator was discovered in the Rutland reservoir – a stone’s throw away from our very own Rutland Hall Hotel & Spa!

Rutland Reservoir: A Historic Discovery

Joe Davis, who works as Conservation Team Leader at Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, made the historic discovery at the Rutland Water Nature Reserve. Astonished by the unprecedented find, Joe made a phone call to Rutland County Council to announce that he thought he’d found a dinosaur.

They later concluded the fossilised remains were not a dinosaur, but instead that of an ichthyosaur – a type of warm-blooded, air-breathing sea predator similar to dolphins.

According to experts, ichthyosaurs could grow up to 25 metres long and lived between 90 and 250 million years ago, with them reportedly becoming extinct around the 90-million mark.

Although Rutland is situated more than thirty miles from the coast, it was covered by a shallow ocean 200 million years ago due to higher sea levels.

Historic Findings: Excavating the Remains

In the late summer of 2021, water levels at the Rutland reservoir were lowered again, enabling the team of palaeontologists to return to Rutland to excavate the remains.

The team paid particular attention to the removal of the sea beast’s huge skull, where they carefully extracted a large block of clay containing the head of the ichthyosaur before covering it in plaster and placing it on wooden splints.

Interestingly, it’s not the first sea predator to be discovered in the reservoir, as two incomplete and much smaller ichthyosaurs were unearthed during the initial construction of the Rutland Water in the 1970s. 

It is, however, the first complete skeleton alongside the largest of its type to ever be uncovered in the UK. World-renowned palaeontologists claim the discovery to be “one of the greatest finds in British palaeontological history”.

Rutland Reservoir: The Future of the Sea Dragon

Anglian Water, a water company that manages the Rutland reservoir, is currently establishing heritage funding to keep the ichthyosaur’s precious remains in the area. They’re advocating for the sea monster to remain in Rutland so its legacy can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

We would highly recommend those staying with us to pop down to the reservoir to enjoy the remains of one of the largest UK sea dragons – after all, seeing is believing!

For the cynics and dinosaur enthusiasts amongst us, there will also be a TV programme named ‘Digging for Britain’, which outlines the unprecedented ichthyosaur discovery. This will be launched on Tuesday 11th January on BBC Two and will additionally be available to view on BBC iPlayer.

We know for a fact that, at Rutland Hall Hotel & Spa, we’ll be tuning in to watch; it’s not every day the remains of an extinct sea beast are discovered locally!

To celebrate this incredible milestone, we’re asking you, our community, to create your very own short story that reflects your interpretation of the mysterious creature. We welcome you to be as creative and as imaginative as you possibly can; there are no rules!

After submitting your entry, you’ll be entered into a prize draw, where you’ll have the chance to win:

1st = Dinner in the new Blossoms restaurant & an overnights stay in a deluxe room for two

2nd = Bed and Breakfast in a deluxe room for two

3rd = Dinner at the new Blossoms restaurant for two

If, throughout your story, you can successfully tie the plot to our hotel & spa, you will win bonus points.

Visit our website via the competition link to submit your entry.

If you’d like to find out more about our hotel, or you’d like to enjoy a relaxing stay with us, just visit our website.

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