Indian paleontologists have successfully unearthed the intact skeleton of an ichthyosaur after 1,500 hours of digging
The ichthyosaur is a marine reptile that measures more than five meters in length and resembles modern dolphins and whales.
The rare discovery could truly redefine paleontologists’ understanding of how creatures spread throughout ancient oceans, given the fact that the skeleton is the first from the Jurassic era to be discovered in India. Fossils like this are mostly found farther north, according to specialists, which makes the Indian discovery a big surprise.
“Vertebrate fossils are rare from the Kachchh region, and we were expecting only bone fragments from this area,” said Guntupalli V.R. Prasad — one of the researchers behind the study
He also added that these “fish lizards” lived between 250 and 90 million years ago. They could be found in warm and humid climates and dominated the seas alongside sharks and other marine reptiles.
The bones were encased in dense, sedimentary rock and represented a test for excavators that were working in the region where temperatures hit almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Even more, these machines were also tasked with maintaining the preservation of the skeleton.
National Geographic mentioned that the backbone of the sea monster was found more or less in a continuous line. Prasad added that based on the patterns in its teeth, the sea monster was a “top-tier predator that fed on hard and abrasive food material,” such as mollusks, fish and marine reptiles. In the beginning, Prasad and his team were not able to find any fragments of skull or jaw. However, after digging below the creature, paleontologists discovered part of the jaw vertically embedded inside the rocks.
“This was an especially useful discovery because the teeth we found offered insights into the ichthyosaur’s diet,” Prasad said.