Largest early ichthyosauromorph found

(ORDO NEWS) — Canadian and Chinese scientists have discovered a new early ichthyosauromorph in southwest China.

The marine reptile, which lived in the early Triassic, turned out to be the largest representative of its group. The study was published in the journal PeerJ.

In the Mesozoic era, the reptiles ruled the world. Dinosaurs ruled the earth, pterosaurs conquered the skies. The sea was also dominated by reptiles. One of the most successful groups of marine animals were the ichthyosaurs.

They lived in all Mesozoic seas. And although they were very common, paleontologists still cannot accurately reproduce their evolutionary history. However, in recent years, scientists have found many new marine reptiles related to ichthyosaurs in the rocks of the early Triassic (251.9-237 million years ago).

These animals were named ichthyosauromorphs and played an important role in reconstructing the early evolutionary history of ichthyosaurs.

Most ichthyosauromorphs have been found in China. One of the characteristic groups of early marine reptiles was called Hupehsuchia. Most of its representatives reached about 1 m in length, and their remains are found in the eastern and central regions of China.

Now paleontologists from China and Canada have found a new member of this group. The new ichthyosauromorph was named Baisesaurus robustus. It was discovered in southwestern China, which forced scientists to expand the habitat of representatives of this group.

The remains found by paleontologists include only the front part of the torso skeleton, including several vertebrae and ribs, limb bones, and abdominal bones called gastralia.

This made it difficult to identify and classify the reptile. But careful comparison of the fossil with other early Triassic marine reptiles has allowed scientists to recognize Baisesaurus as an ichthyosauromorph.

The new species has a number of characteristic features. For example, scientists found deep depressions along the sides of the vertebrae and a strong radius with two separate articular facets for contact with the carpal bones.

Paleontologists have not observed anything like this in other early ichthyosauromorphs. But the most surprising was the size of Baisesaurus – it could reach 3 m in length.

This makes him larger than any modern ichthyosauromorph known to him. In addition, scientists have concluded that Baisesaurus was a skilled swimmer. Probably, he could actively migrate over long distances.

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