Vladimir Lenin
Scientists Name Dolphin-Like Reptile Fossil after Russia's Lenin

Scientists in Russia have named a recently discovered dolphin-like fossil after the country's former leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.

Russian palaeontologists discovered the fossil of the marine reptile, a type of ichthyosaur, which is believed to have existed nearly 125 million years ago.

"The name Leninia stellans was agreed collegially. There is nothing strange about the name, many new discoveries are named after famous people," Gleb Uspensky, the head of Natural History Museum at Ulyanovsk State University, told Russia's Ria Novosti news agency.

The fossil is currently being kept at a local museum in Ulyanovsk.

Explaining the name, he said: "The 'Lenin' part indicates the genus, and the 'stellans' (meaning starry or brilliant) indicates the type species. If we find another ichthyosaur from this genus, then it will be given a different name. 'Lenin Smiling,' for example."

Ichthyosaurs, the predecessors of today's reptiles, do not belong to the category of dinosaurs.

According to experts, the oceanic species existed during the Mesozoic era, between 251 million and 65 million years ago.

The scientists found parts of the reptile's skull several years ago on the outskirts of Ulyanovsk, but the complete fossil was discovered only recently.

"The skull was over a metre long. Externally the ichthyosaur resembled a modern-day dolphin, and fed on fish and molluscs," said Uspensky.