Remains of ancient ichthyosaurs discovered in the Arctic
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A group of Scandinavian scientists discovered a fossilized prehistoric aquatic reptile – an ichthyosaur in a rock that dates from the late Permian just after the EPME mass extinction.
The Mesozoic era, which is divided into the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, is generally considered the age of the dinosaurs. It was previously thought that the early Triassic was the origin of the ichthyosaur, a fully aquatic marine reptile related to the dinosaur. However, the authors of the study found a rock-encased ichthyosaur fossil dated to 250 million years ago, just two million years after the EPME.
The rock in which the fossil was found was taken from the Arctic island of Svalbard, islands in the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway.
It was previously thought that the evolution to fully aquatic species occurred after the EPME 252 million years ago. Scientists believed that this evolutionary step was taken to take advantage of the ecological niches left vacant by the cataclysmic global extinction.
According to National Geographic, the Permian extinction killed 90% of the world's species, including 95% of all aquatic species. However, the study suggests, given the all-aquatic ichthyosaur's chronological proximity to EPME, it appears that all-aquatic ichthyosaurs already inhabited prehistoric seas prior to the Mesozoic era. after the mass extinction, and not in ecological successors in the Mesozoic communities of marine predators”, – the researchers write in the study.
Therefore, while these oceanic reptiles were contemporaries with the dinosaurs, evidence now suggests that their evolution predated their land-based relatives.
Oldest ichthyosaur fossil hints they evolved before mass extinction | New Scientist https://t.co/09cPODt7GV
— Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair) March 14, 2023
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