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Fossils Civic Museum

Did you know that the sea touched the Province of Varese about 242 million years ago?

The town of Besano (VA) is the basis of the name for a sea reptile that lived during this period: the Besanosaurus. It is one of the most representative fossils of the famous Besano - Monte San Giorgio reservoir.

The fossil that was found was practically whole and in perfect shape. It was 5,8 meters long and weighted around 500 kilograms. Its skull was quite small compared to the rest of the body and had a long, thin beak. Its teeth were small, cone-shaped with a slightly rounded tip.

Just like every other ichthyosaurs, its limbs evolved into paddle-like shapes. Both front and rear limbs featured only four fingers with an increasing number of phalanges. It seems that its long, thin body along with its tail and did not feature a dorsal fin.

The Besanosaurus was discovered during the spring of 1993 at the excavation site of  "Sasso Caldo" in Besano by the volunteers of the Besano paleontology group. The fossil was completely covered by rocks and initially could be seen only with X-Rays.145 radiographs were necessary to fully examinate the contents of the 38 rock slates that enclosed the skeleton.

The specimen was put on display at Milan's Natural History Civic Museum after 16,500 hours of preparations. Another cast can be found at the Besano Fossils Civic Museum.

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