7 Nov 2014

Amphibious 'Sea Monster' Discovered In China Is Missing Piece Of Evolutionary Puzzle

The first fossil of an amphibious ichthyosaur has been discovered in China, and the scientists who made the discovery say it fills a longstanding gap in the fossil record. Paleontologists have long known that ichthyosaurs--dolphin-like "sea monsters" that lived from about 250 million years ago until about 90 million years ago--descended from similar reptiles that lived on land. But there was no fossil showing a transitional creature adapted for life on land as well as in water.


"But now we have this fossil showing the transition," Dr. Ryosuke Motani, a professor in the department of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Davis, and a member of the international team of scientists who made the discovery, said in a written statement. "There's nothing that prevents it from coming onto land." Motani and his colleagues found the 248-million-year-old fossil in China's Anhui Province, according to the statement. The fossil measures about 1.5 feet in length and shows an animal with large, flexible flippers that would have made it possible to walk on land.

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