The fossilised skull of a gigantic predator has been found off the English Channel coast of southern England.

The skull is 2.4 meters long and scientists believe it once belonged to a 16 meter long pliosaur which probably weighed an impressive 12 tons.

The pliosaurs were a type of ocean dwelling reptiles that dominated the seas roughly 150 million years ago.

The man behind the discovery is fossil hunter Kevin Sheehan from Dorset who gradually uncovered the remains of the fragmented skull over a number of years.

In 40 years of collecting, I have often been green with envy at some of the finds other people have made“, said Sheehan. “But now when someone shows me a find, I can say ‘That’s not a fossil, this pliosaur, that’s a fossil’.”

The fossilised skull is 90% complete and clearly shows the jaws of a powerful predator.

These creatures were monsters”, says Dr David Martill, a palaeontologist from the University of Portsmouth. “They had massive big muscles on their necks, and you would have imagined that they would bite into the animal and get a good grip, and then with these massive neck muscles they probably would have thrashed the animals around and torn chunks off. It would have been a bit of a blood bath.”

Martill suspects that the skull may belong to a species of pliosaur that haven’t been unearthed until now.

This is one of the largest, if not the largest, pliosaur skull found anywhere in the world and contains features that have not been seen before“, he explains. “It could be a species new to science.”

The skull has been purchased by the Dorset County Council and will be displayed in the county museum.