Jurameer Schandelah

On the edge of a forest near Braunschweig, hidden between a network of labyrinthine dirt roads, between meadows and tree groups, there is a site. There, at the Jurameer geopoint near Schandelah in the district of Wolfenbüttel, excavation manager Ralf Kosma and his team made a very special discovery: at a depth of a few metres, nestled between slate rock slabs, they came across a fossilized fish dinosaur – an ichthyosaur.

These dinosaurs lived about 180 million years ago. During the Jurassic, Triassic and Cretaceous eras, the three-metre-long reptiles crossed the vast primal seas that once covered the earth. They died out long before the dinosaurs. Although the researchers found a fish dinosaur in Schandelah last year, the specimen, which has now been carefully uncovered, is what the researchers call “one of their most beautiful finds to date,” according to Kosma.

“The skeleton lay relatively flat, more or less lying on the back, with outstretched paddles. It’s almost complete and that’s a great thing, of course,” Kosma says. As a rule, you will find two paddles, i.e. a front paddle and a rear paddle. But this fish dinosaur has all four extremities. “That’s unusual.”

How to get there: From Braunschweig via the A 39 in an easterly direction. Exit Cremlingen via the motorway and follow the signs until after Schandelah.