- A near-complete Jurassic-era fossil of an intriguing animal that looks like a mashup of a dolphin and lizard, and lived during the twilight of the dinosaurs, has been unearthed in Kutch, Gujarat.
- Ichthyosaurs, or ‘fish- lizards’ in Greek, were large reptiles that lived at the same time as dinosaurs.
- While many ichthyosaur fossils have been found in North America and Europe, the fossil record in the Southern Hemisphere has mostly been limited to South America and Australia.
- A fossil bone from the animal’s skeleton was first found by an Indo-German research team in Kutch in 2016, they suspected it to be a dinosaur.
- “But the bone was too long and later the whole skeleton was unearthed. It’s the first Jurassic ichthyosaur found in India.
- The 5.5 metre-long skeleton is thought to belong to the Ophthalmosauridae family, which likely lived between 165 and 90 million years ago, when the arid Kutch was a sea.
- This also 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.