Fossil found in the USA belonged to a pregnant ichthyosaur

Hyperaxion Jun 8, 2020

An excavation led by paleontologist Martin Sander in Nevada found two specimens of this prehistoric species of marine reptile.

A study by paleontologist Martin Sander found two fossils of ichthyosaurs that lived in waters where today is the state of Nevada, in the United States. Among the 246 million-year-old specimens is a female, named Martina, who was pregnant when she died.

Fossil found in the USA belonged to a pregnant ichthyosaur
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons).

During excavations in the Augusta Mountains, Sander saw what appeared to be fossilized remains of an ichthyosaur spine, a species of marine reptile that emerged in the early Triassic. The scientist later confirmed that the spine was Martina’s. Another discovery by the paleontologist is a giant skull from another ichthyosaur. “It is the first big thing that lived on this earth,” said the scientist, in an interview with the Associated Press (AP).

Martina’s species, Cymbospondylus duelferi, has not been found anywhere else, according to Sander’s research. About 3.6 meters long, she was smaller than other ichthyosaurs, but her teeth were larger than expected and would have the function of helping to tear prey, such as squid and fish.

The fossil is the second oldest of a pregnant ichthyosaur. The oldest is a 249 million-year-old specimen, discovered in China. These huge animals – which looked like sharks – remained at the top of the food chain for millions of years.

According to Sander, Martina shows that these prehistoric reptiles have adapted to give birth in the water, instead of laying eggs on the ground, a less safe place against predators.

Pregnant ichthyosaur. (Credit: Nobumichi Tamura).

Related topics:

dinosaur Fossil

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