Fossils of an animal older than dinosaurs found: the theory of evolution may change

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Ichthyosaur vertebrae found on Norway's Spitsbergen

The giant marine reptiles ichthyosaurs, which thrived throughout much of the Mesozoic era and existed between 250 and 90 million years ago, have been known to science since the early 19th century. But a recent discovery by scientists reveals new details about these long-extinct creatures that could significantly affect the idea of their evolution.

As the publication writes Heritage Daily, paleontologists have found on the Norwegian archipelago Spitsbergen 1300 km from the North Pole, a large number of fossils of ichthyosaurs. The study of these fossils showed that these animals probably originated earlier than science had previously assumed.

Previously, scientists had concluded that ichthyosaurs and other ichthyosauromorphs evolved from a group of unidentified land reptiles that returned to the sea. They gradually transitioned from a semi-aquatic to an aquatic lifestyle and developed flippers in place of their limbs. Their bodies became shaped like those of modern fish, and over time they began to give birth directly in water to live cubs, like modern whales or sharks, thus finally severing their connection to land.

Experts from the University of Oslo have analyzed the new findings, which are well preserved due to deposits of limestone deposited around the remains of animals. So scientists were able to find bony fish and amphibian bones, which they called "crocodiles. Also in the limestone were found 11 articulated caudal vertebrae, typical of ichthyosaurs. At first glance, they appeared to be too old compared to the period of existence of these animals.

But it turned out that in this case we are not talking about the amphibious ancestor of ichthyosaurs, because the comparison showed that the finds completely corresponded to the vertebrae of "younger" ichthyosaurs, which had larger sizes. Even the internal microstructure of the bones matched. This allowed scientists to speculate that the animals found had adaptive signs of rapid growth, increased metabolism, and a completely oceanic lifestyle.

Analysis of the surrounding geological rocks showed it to be about two million years later than the mass extinction at the end of the Permian. This means that ichthyosaurs may be older than dinosaurs. They probably first spread before the mass extinction event.

This may completely overturn the view of science about the appearance of the first major groups of prehistoric reptile species. It is now safe enough to say that some of them existed earlier than scientists assumed. Thus, researchers should continue their search for ancient reptiles in Spitsbergen and other parts of the world.

Previously OBOZREVATEL told about an unusual find of a nest with the remains of a hatching dinosaur eggs.

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