FunNature & AnimalThey find the remains of a giant marine reptile

They find the remains of a giant marine reptile

It measured 26 meters, moved at 40 kilometers per hour, and for 50 million years it dominated the seas of Earth as the fastest and most effective predator. It is a specimen of ichthyosaur, one of the largest animals that has inhabited the planet , and whose jaw has been discovered by an international team of scientists in Lilstock, United Kingdom.

So far, the largest known ichthyosaur was 21 meters long. The remains of this specimen, found in the Tyrell Museum, in Canada, served to compare the new remains and conclude that, indeed, they belonged to a specimen of this species, which lived in the late Triassic, about 200 million years ago. .

The discovery is just an incomplete bone (called a surangular) from the lower jaw of this giant creature, which they estimate would measure about the size of a blue whale – a gigantic shastasauric-type ichthyosaur.

“The jaw bone of a 200-million-year-old prehistoric reptile belongs to one of the largest animals in the world, ” the group of paleontologists said in a statement.

According to fossil collector and study co-author Paul de la Salle: “After the recognition of a bone and groove structure, I thought it might be part of the jaw of an ichthyosaur.”

“As the only specimen ever found is represented by a broad jaw piece, 25% larger than that found at Lilstock, it was difficult to estimate the size of the new specimen . Comparisons suggest that the Lilstock ichthyosaur measured at least, between 20 and 26 meters in length. But such estimates are not exact, due to the differences between the species “, they add.

The study has been published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE .

In 1850, other, similarly incomplete late Triassic bones were also found and described, from various dinosaurs (stegosaurs and sauropods), indeterminate dinosaurs, and other reptiles. Two of them are missing and are believed to have been destroyed.

However, with the discovery of the Lilstock specimen, the new study disproves previous identifications and suggests that other unidentified bone fragments could also belong to an ichthyosaur.

“One of the bones we have could also be a surangular ichthyosaur. If it is, compared to the Lilstock sample, it could represent a much larger specimen ,” the researchers explain.

About 200 million years ago, after the great supercontinent of Pangea was broken, the Eurasian continental shelf gradually separated from that of North America, and the Atlantic Ocean was born. During this profound change of the planet, the reptiles that lived on land also changed, and the ancestors of the ichthyosaur moved to the newly created ocean, developing fins and adapting to marine life.

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