In India, researchers have unearthed a startling discovery. Paleontologists have removed a nearly complete fossil of the “lizard fish” Ichthyosaur that used to rule the ocean about 150 million years ago. This is the first time that the fishlike reptile has been found in the Indiana subcontinent. And it reveals a lot about the earth and where these massive monsters lived long before humans existed.
This creature, which 5.5 meters long, lived during the Jurassic era. But for Ichthyosaurs, this is truly a pretty small specimen. That’s right. These monstrosities get much bigger than 18 feet long.
To the best of researchers’ knowledge, adult Ichthyosaurs ranged from 4.5 meters long to as gargantuan as 9 meters or nearly 30 feet long.
The researchers did not find this fossilized dinosaur in the ground all alone. It was with the remains of its prey, Fox News reports. Ichthyosaurs have been the subject of some research. Australian research teams are diving into it. And they found that these creatures evolved to thrive in low-oxygen environments. This adaption made the water a perfect playground for these “lizard fish.” Although they are lung breathing, they are huge and terrorized the other creatures of the ocean deep.
This dinosaur had huge, sharp teeth that were exceptionally strong. And based on an examination of this creature’s teeth, researchers discovered that this one loved crunchy food. That explains why its fossilized remains were found among a collection of squid-like belemnites and ammonites.
“We could infer from wear patterns on its teeth that this Ichthyosaur was a top-tier predator that fed on hard and abrasive food material, including marine mollusks, fish and possibly other marine reptiles,” said Guntupalli Prasad, the lead researcher.
The research findings were so exciting that the University of Delhi published them in the PLOS ONE journal.
Up until now, Ichthyosaur fossils were found in North America and Europe. This makes it the first time paleontologists discovered this massive sea creature in the Indian subcontinent. A few specimens were found in South America and Australia.
This one was lodged in sedimentary rock from the Ran of Kutch region of Gujarat.
Removing the massive lizard fish took 1,500 working hours. The entire creature was intact except for a few pieces of its skull and its tail. Otherwise, the dinosaur was in fantastic shape for being 150 million years old.
This specimen is believed to be among the Ophthalmosauridae family of Ichthyosaurs that are closely related to the varieties in the Northern Hemisphere.
This is a remarkable discovery not only because it is the first Jurassic ichthyosaur record from India, but also it throws light on the evolution and diversity of ichthyosaurs in the Indo-Madagascan region of the former Gondwanaland and India’s biological connectivity with other continents in the Jurassic, Prasad adds.
According to Curtin University PhD researcher Chloe Plet, ichthyosaurs were optimized for a low oxygen earth.
“Ichthyosaurs evolved during a time when atmospheric oxygen levels were continuously low over a period of 70 million years,” Plet said. “During our analyses of the sample, we discovered red blood cell structure that was up to five times smaller than those reported in most modern organisms.”