|The new species was a top predator, similar to a river dolphin but the size of a small bus|
Scientists have discovered a "highly unusual" new species of extinct sea-dwelling reptile in Russia.
Similar in appearance to a river dolphin or gharial crocodile, the fish-eating sea-beast would have had a long beak-like snout.
Related to the top predators who ruled the ocean during the dinosaur age, its lengthy "rostrum" set it apart from its relatives who had large and powerful toothed jaws.
The "pilosaur Luskhan itilensis" is estimated to have measured about 6.5m (21.3ft) - the size of a small bus.
It would have had four large flippers which evolved from feet over a long period of time, and an oar like tail.
The marine reptile's skull was unearthed from the bank of the Volga River near the Russian city of Ulyanovsk.
The skull alone, with its long and slender snout, measured 1.5m (5ft) - the average height of a 13 year old boy.
Scientist believe that the animal's unusual beak suggests that this family of marine reptiles - called plesiosaurs - colonised a much wider range of ecological niches than previously believed.