Paleontology is not a first dug, first served science. Research interests, logistical technicalities, and more dictate what fossils are cleaned up, studied, and published on in what order, and while some field finds are so momentous that they jump to the front of the queue, other fossils are on a slow burn. The Storr Lochs Monster is one of the more patient fossils.

The marine reptile, which does not have an official scientific name yet, was discovered in 1966 by Norrie Gillies, the manager of the SSE Storr Lochs Power Station on the Isle of Skye. The old bones were soon excavated and carried back to the National Museums Scotland, and that's where they've rested for the last 50 years. Now a multi-institution team of paleontologists from the museum, the University of Edinburgh, and others are going to be giving the fossil the attention its been waiting for.

Formal study of the fossil is only just beginning, but a few things are clear. The creature was an ichthyosaur measuring about 13 feet long and dating back to about 170 million years ago, a time known as the Middle Jurassic. This epoch is largely undiscovered country for paleontologists. The standard image of what the Jurassic was comes from the Late Jurassic - when dinosaurs like Allosaurus and Stegosaurus roamed the land and big-eyed ichthyosaurs thrived in the seas - but the making of the Late Jurassic world is still hazy. The Storr Lochs Monster will hopefully bring more focus to that story, adding just that much more detail to ancient seas we can only envision through the remains of the creatures that once lived there.