Scientists examining the largest Ichthyosaurus fossil ever found spotted a new thing about this large ancient marine animal, one not noted before. Namely, the team concluded that this specimen was carrying a baby at the time of its demise.
Largest Ichthyosaurus Holds Clues About the Waters from Even Before the Dinosaurs
A team of researchers has been reanalyzing an Ichthyosaurus somersetensis, one dated back to some 200 million years ago or the early Jurassic period. This specimen is around 10 feet long which, according to the team, makes it the “largest unequivocal example of the genus Ichthyosaurus.”
It was first discovered in the 1990s in Somerset, England, and more recently rediscovered in a German museum.
“This specimen provides new insights into the size range of the species, but also records only the third example of an Ichthyosaurus known with an embryo. That’s special,” states Dean Lomax, a paleontologist with the University of Manchester.
The research team points out that this largest Ichthyosaurus fossil is special thanks to both its size and for carrying the embryo. This was measured to be some 2.5 inches long.
The embryo was found in between the adult female specimen’s ribs. It was also noted to be the only one in this fossil. This seems to indicate a trend, as both of the other two fossils carrying an embryo also had only one.
However, scientists do note that a conclusion shouldn’t be drawn on the matter based on so few specimens.
The research team added pieces to reconstruct the female adult specimens, these being added besides its fossilized parts to complete it. This largest Ichthyosaurus fossil still presented ribs, pieces of its vertebrae, a shoulder blade, and also a forefin.
Ichthyosaurs evolved as a species before the appearance of the dinosaurs and were seemingly spread all over the globe. They were comparable to porpoises but are still distant relatives to modern day lizards and snakes.
The species went extinct some 90 million years ago, as noted by the University.
Study results on this rare find are available in a paper in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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