Sven Sachs, a paleontologist from the Bielefeld Natural History Museum in Germany, was at the Lower Saxony State Museum in Hannover to study an ancient sea reptile when one of the museum's display fossils caught his eye.
The specimen had originally been unearthed in the mid-1990s in Somerset, England, but it had remained largely unstudied since. Sachs suspected it was an Ichthyosaurus. Commonly mistaken for a dinosaur, the species was more like a "sea dragon" marine reptile that had a long, flexible body and may have swum like eels.
"I found it very extraordinary," said Sachs. "[It was] way bigger than any specimen I had examined." He explained the specimen had previously been labeled as a smaller species within the Ichthyosaurus group.