In a fossil of an Ichthyosaurus, found more than 20 years ago, which has only been studied, it is already known that it was an adult female more than three meters long.
A fossil of Ichthyosaurus, a type of marine reptile that lived during the Lower Jurassic period (about 200 million years ago), which was found in the 1990s, has now finally been studied. The remains are almost complete and, according to the authors of the paper, this is the largest fossil of ichthyosaur hitherto found.
Better known as the “sea dragon,” ichthyosaurs have been extinct for about 90 million years in the Cretaceous period, having occupied the oceans for 160 million years while dinosaurs occupied the land.
This fossil was found more than 20 years ago on the English coast, and since then it was on display in a museum in the German city of Hanover. It remained un-studied or analyzed until German paleontologist Sven Sachs saw the fossil in August last year and contacted British colleague Dean Lomax, a specialist in this species of reptiles, for a thorough analysis.
After studying the specimen, they identified it as a member of the species Ichthyosaurus somersetensis, and, according to the study published in the scientific journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. In addition, they discovered that it is an adult female and that she was pregnant at the time of her death. The fossil is more than three meters long.
“It amazes me that specimens like this can still be ‘rediscovered’ in museum collections. You do not necessarily need to go to the field to make a new discovery. This specimen gives new light on the size of the species, but is also the third specimen of an Ichthyosaurus known as an embryo. That’s special”, Dean said in a statement from the University of Manchester.