Giant Jurassic fish 'grew up to 54ft'
The biggest fish ever to swim in the sea grew to the astonishing length of 54 feet, research has shown.
It sounds like a fisherman's tale. But the giant Jurassic fish Leedsichthys, that lived 165 million years ago, was a true monster, scientists claim.
Calculations based on fragments of fossil skeleton suggest it grew to eight or nine metres (29 feet) in 20 years and reach 16.5 metres (54 feet) in 38 years. Scientists believe Leedsichthys was the whale of its day, living on enormous quantities of plankton. Professor Jeff Liston, from the University of Glasgow, said: "The giant plankton-feeders we know to live in today's oceans are among the largest living vertebrate animals alive. The Leedsichthys was the first animal known to occupy this role. What we didn't have any clear idea of, was how large this large fish really was: its skeleton preserves poorly, it is often just isolated fragments, so previous size estimates were largely historical arm-waving exercises."
The team, including researchers from Canada, looked at various remains of the fish including a near-complete new specimen unearthed in Peterborough.
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Prof Liston added: "We sat down and looked at a wide range of specimens, not only at the bones, but their internal growth structures as well...
"This fish was a pioneer for the ecological niche filled today by mammals and cartilaginous fish, such as manta rays, basking sharks and whale sharks."