The fossil remains of a new species of dolphin-like Cretaceous era sea reptile have been discovered.
The 10ft Malawania anachronus is a particularly important discovery because ichthyosaurs were believed to have disappeared during the Jurassic era, some 66 million years before this species existed. The discrepancy is so significant in fact that palaeontologists are divided on whether the find will rewrite the history books or if it is simply a case of misidentification.
Study leader Valentin Fischer has described the species as "something that shouldn't be there, but it is." Even the name Malawania anachronus means "out-of-time swimmer" in Kurdish and Greek. "This 'living fossil' of its time demonstrates the existence of a lineage that we had never even imagined," said Fischer.
"The scientists don't know how M. anachronus managed to keep the same body shape through the millennia—a "very rare feat" among marine reptiles, which tend to evolve quickly in response to changing ocean conditions."
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Source: National Geographic
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