Jaw fossil found on U.K. beach belonged to ichthyosaur

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Context:

  • A jawbone fossil found on a rocky English beach belongs to one of the biggest marine animals on record, a type of seagoing reptile called an ichthyosaur that scientists estimated at up to 85 feet (26 meters) long – approaching the size of a blue whale.

More details:

  • Scientists said on April 9 that this ichthyosaur, which appears to be the largest marine reptile ever discovered, lived 205 million years ago at the end of the Triassic Period, dominating the oceans just as dinosaurs were becoming the undisputed masters on land. The bone, called a surangular, was part of its lower jaw.
  • The researchers estimated the animal’s length by comparing this surangular to the same bone in the largest ichthyosaur skeleton ever found, a species called Shonisaurus sikanniensis from British Columbia that was 69 feet (21 meters) long. The newly discovered bone was 25 percent larger.
  • Ichthyosaurs swam the world’s oceans from 250 million years ago to 90 million years ago, preying on squid and fish.

Source:TH