This is – as far as we know now

Researchers have discovered the fossilized remains of a hitherto unknown marine reptile, up to 17 meters long from the tail fin to the snout!

While dinosaurs ruled the Earth, the oceans were dominated by so-called ichthyosaurs. Although these marine reptiles were not dinosaurs, they reached similar giant sizes and also came in many different shapes and sizes. Now researchers have discovered the fossilized remains of a strange and previously unknown species of ichthyosaur. An animal that was really huge.

The now-extinct ichthyosaurs are similar to today’s dolphins. Not only in appearance, for example, they also breathed air and were childlike. Besides, it was huge. Study researcher Martin Sander said: “Since the first discovery of skeletons in southern England and Germany more than 250 years ago, these ‘fishes’ have been among the first large fossil reptiles known to science.

And this story continues now. In the Augusta Mountains, a small mountain range in the US state of Nevada, researchers have found the fossil remains of a new species of ichthyosaur. In the rock, the team found a well-preserved skull up to two meters long. In addition to this strangely large skull, the researchers also found part of the spine, shoulder and front fin.

Researcher Fiji Shock lies next to the skull of Cymbospondylus youngorum. Photo: Martin Sander, Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History (NHM)

Researchers described that the beast was really gigantic their studies. Because from the caudal fin to the snout, this marine reptile should be 17 meters long. Researchers have Cymbospondylus youngorum the name of the thing.

But the biggest surprise came after the researchers dated the animal. After analysis it seems Cymbospondylus youngorum It is from the Middle Triassic period (247.2 to 237 million years ago). This is interesting. Because this means that this animal is the largest discovered so far from that period. In fact, Cymbospondylus youngorum It is even – as far as we know – the first giant to inhabit Earth.

slept fast
The cool thing is how fast it is Cymbospondylus youngorum Outgrew. This giant swam across the oceans about 246 million years ago, about three million years after the first ichthyosaurs appeared on the scene. This means that Cymbospondylus youngorum – Evolutionarily – reached its gigantic size in an insanely short period of time.

What does he have on his list? The elongated nose and conical teeth of Cymbospondylus youngorum indicate that this giant preyed on squid and fish. But due to its large appearance, it may also sometimes like smaller and younger marine reptiles.

Researchers say that Cymbospondylus youngorum He may have had little in common with whales. In this way they not only reached gigantic sizes, but are also similar to each other in terms of construction. Moreover, they both arose after a mass extinction. However, one important difference is that the ichthyosaur was huge very early in its evolutionary history, while whales took much longer to reach their massive size.

How did ichthyosaurs get so big? This is probably due to the increase in ammonites and eel-like vertebrates that filled the ecological gap after the mass extinction at the end of the Permian period. In general, the results show that Cymbospondylus youngorum It survived the mass extinction very well. “The interesting aspect is that Cymbospondylus youngorum Evidence of the resilience of life in the oceans after the worst mass extinction in Earth’s history,” concludes Jorge Velez-Guarbe.

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