Friday, April 29, 2022

Marine reptiles in the Alps...holy climate change

Giant tooth of ancient marine reptile discovered in Alps

It's the largest such tooth found from the extinct ichthyosaur. Scientists had previously speculated that some of the larger reptiles in the group had gone toothless.

A hand displays the root of the thickest ichthyosaur tooth found so far with a diameter of 60 Millimeters.

The reptiles went extinct way before dinosaurs, leaving scientists mystified about their apppearance and behaviour

The giant tooth of a prehistoric sea monster has been found high up in the Swiss alps, a new study said on Thursday.

The tooth was discovered along with two skeletal remains believed to come from ichthyosaurs — massive marine reptiles with small heads and elongated bodies that ruled the oceans in the early Triassic Period.

Published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the report analyzed one skeleton containing 10 rib fragments and a vertebra, suggesting a huge animal about 20 meters (66 feet) long, about the size of a large sperm whale. The second fossil suggested an ichthyosaur about 15 meters long.

But "the tooth is particularly exciting," said lead author Martin Sander, of the University of Bonn, seeing as larger ichthyosaurs so far discovered had appeared to be toothless.

With its root at 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) in diameter, it's the largest-ever tooth found for the extinct reptiles.

Mysterious giant 'fish lizard' predating the dinosaurs

The ichthyosaur — which literally translates from ancient Greek to "fish lizard" — was one of the largest animals to have ever lived, growing up to 20 meters and weighing up to 80 metric tons, heavier than the largest sperm whale ever recorded.

The beasts are thought to have first appeared roughly 250 million years ago after the Permian-Triassic extinction event, sometimes called "the great dying," which saw over 95% of sea life wiped out.

Ichthyosaurs died off 100 million years ago and left behind a scant trail of fossil remains, mystifying researchers.  Dinosaurs, which went extinct much later, have better-preserved remains.

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