Ichthyosaur: Monster munch: Ancient marine reptile died after dining on fellow titan

Ichthyosaur: Monster munch: Ancient marine reptile died after dining on fellow titan”

Dr Ryosuke Motani, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Davis, in the USA, and one of the authors on the paper, said: "We always guessed from tooth shape and jaw design that these predators must have fed on large prey but now we have direct evidence that they did".

"But after spending several years visiting the dig site and looking at the same specimens, we finally were able to "swallow" what we were seeing". "We generally guessed from tooth condition and jaw layout that these predators should have fed on massive prey, but now we have immediate evidence that they did".

The ichthyosaur's stomach contents didn't show signs of advanced digestion by acid, so it likely perished itself soon after its final meal.

In a warm shallow sea about 240 million years ago in what is now southwestern China, a large dolphin-like marine reptile attacked and swallowed an nearly equally big lizard-like marine reptile in a savage encounter that left both beasts dead.

The fossil, discovered in 2010 in southwestern China, is described in a paper published August 20 in the journal iScience.

Given the size of the prey, it's possible the ichthyosaur could be reclassified as an "apex predator", putting it at the top of the food chain during the early part of the Mesozoic Era.

Ichthyosaurs, which are also reptiles, are dolphin-like creatures which dominated the seas around 250 to 90 million years ago.

However, the discovery of the giant thalattosaur in the stomach of the ichthyosaur found by Motani, Da-Yong Jiang, a paleontologist at Peking University in China, and their team suggests that this was not the case.

More news: Greenland lost a record 586 billion tons of ice in 2019

"Now, we can seriously consider that (Ichthyosaurs) were eating big animals, even when they had grasping teeth", added Motani.

Carnivores that consume large animals are often assumed to have huge teeth adapted for slicing them up.

This image shows the ichthyosaur's teeth, with the broken white line indicating the approximate gum line of the upper jaw.

It's still unclear which group of modern-day vertebrates are the closest relative to ichthyosaurs, but researchers have suggested they may have been an offshoot of diapsids, which includes dinosaurs, birds and pterosaurs.

"Now, we can say for positive that [ichthyosaurs] did take in massive animals", claimed Motani. The fossils of a 180-million-yr-old ichthyosaur, which also contained evidence of blubber and skin, were found in December 2018.

The researchers believe that predation is the more likely cause for the ancient maiming rather than decay, as elements of the thalattosaur's limbs that would ordinarily have been among the first to decay and break away from the body were instead found inside the belly of the larger reptile. "We now have a really solid articulated fossil in the stomach of a marine reptile for the first time", Motani says. "That is why we thought they were squid eaters". "It seems that megapredation was more common than previously thought".

Given that the team is still excavating the site of the fossil, which has been moved about a mile from the quarry to the Geopark Museum, the researchers are still uncovering new things. "At this point, it's beyond our initial expectations, and we'll just have to see what we'll discover next".

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration.

Like this



23 August 2020
Trump declares California wildfires as 'major disaster'
These fires overtook the Thomas Fire in total acreage, which scorched 281,893 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in 2017. A significant decline in manpower compared to the 5,000 who fought the fire in Mendocino in 2018 - the largest in state history.

23 August 2020
Electric Rolls-Royce: classic Roller style, Lunaz EV innards
Plus, the brakes, steering, suspension and electronics are fully uprated and tested. That's still a very big chunk of cash for a classic Silver Cloud.

23 August 2020
Estee Lauder forecasts profit below expectations, to cut up to 2000 jobs
EL reported net earnings of $0.68 billion, compared with net earnings of $1.79 billion a year ago . The company added they would focus on digital capabilities, advertising, and promotions.

23 August 2020
Heidi Klum Seeks Emergency Court Hearing
Leni also said that her younger siblings are "really upset" and "frightened" at the thought of being away from Klum for that long. She wrote: "I just want to figure out something and come up with a plan and agreement as a family".

23 August 2020
'Space guests': Russian cosmonaut captures possible UFO footage from ISS
Some air leakage from the station is regular, and NASA suggests that this distinct leak has been on its radar for a whilst. NASA and Roscosmos expect that preliminary results of the investigation will be available next week.

23 August 2020
WB Games Montreal Announces Gotham Knights
In any case, Gotham Knights is shaping up to be a massive new title for Bat-fans to gorge upon once it releases sometime in 2021 . He's "an expert fighter armed with his collapsible quarterstaff and skilled in a variety of stealth techniques".

23 August 2020
Tropical Storm Laura forms in Atlantic, Florida Keys in path
Friday and was expected in Puerto Rico Saturday morning and near the northern coast of Hispaniola late Saturday and early Sunday. Remnants of a city sign lay on the beach damaged by Tropical Storm Laura in Salinas, Puerto Rico, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020.

23 August 2020
Chinese inactivated COVID-19 vaccine starts phase-3 clinical trials in Argentina
Sputnik V has been developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, along with the RDIF. The count of COVID-19 cases in the world stands at over 22,256,000 and 782,456 people have died of the disease.

23 August 2020
Scheffler thought about 'pretty cool' 59 during second round
Tiger Woods fired a 71 to make the cut on the number at 139, where Rory McIlroy was as well after a 70. The score of 60 has been broken 12 times with Furyk having shot a 58 (in 2016) and a 59 (in 2013).

23 August 2020
Stars' top line come to life in Game 1 win over Avalanche
They put on a show the final two, displaying the flash and depth that makes them one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. We just kept it simple and played the way we want to play".