Displaying a Warwickshire plesiosaur

Among our geological collections there are a number of Jurassic reptile skeletons – the remains of ‘sea-dragons’ known as ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs. These lived in the Jurassic seas that covered Warwickshire 200 million years ago and were found as fossils in local quarries. Some of these remains, notably the famous Wilmcote plesiosaur skeleton, are on display at the Market Hall Museum.

In Spring 2010 we displayed another of our plesiosaur skeletons at the Market Hall Museum. This skeleton was found during the nineteenth century in a quarry at Honington, near Shipston-on-Stour. Although it lacks the skull, part of the tail, a number of ribs, and several paddle bones, the fossil bones are free of rock, making it look very life-like.

Just before Christmas 2009, we reconstructed the skeleton to get an idea of how best to display it. We were helped by Dr Adam Stuart Smith, then of the National Museum of Ireland, a leading expert in the field of fossil marine reptiles. Adam can be seen at work in this photo.

Honington Plesiosaur

Wilmcote Plesiosaur

Reconstruction of plesiosaurs (courtesy of Adam Smith)

It seems likely that this plesiosaur was a young adult and is probably a new species. We will probably never know how or why it died, or how many other skeletons lie under the fields and villages of southern Warwickshire.

Adam Smith’s plesiosaur website

Telephone: 01926 412500
Email: museum@warwickshire.gov.uk