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Palaeontology

Ancient sea monster gave birth to live young

February 14, 2017 | Comment icon 4 comments



Dinocephalosaurus was one of many long-necked marine reptiles. Image Credit: Dmitry Bogdanov
Scientists have discovered that not all prehistoric marine reptiles laid eggs like crocodiles do.
This surprising revelation comes courtesy of the well-preserved fossil of a species known as Dinocephalosaurus which populated the world's oceans over 245 million years ago.

The specimen, which was recovered from a fossil deposit in China, shows clear indications of being pregnant with another, much smaller Dinocephalosaurus. The fetus was around a tenth of the size of the mother, appeared to have identical anatomy and was curled up in a fetal position.
"The neck-forward position of the embryonic skeleton suggests that the included skeleton was not ingested prey, but was an embryo," the researchers wrote. "This is the first-ever evidence of live birth in an animal group previously thought to lay eggs exclusively."

Dinocephalosaurus itself was a long-necked ocean predator which measured up to 13ft long.

"It was a fish eater, snaking its long neck from side to side to snatch its prey," said study lead researcher Jun Liu. "It looks superficially like the legendary Nessie."

Source: Live Science | Comments (4)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
Makes sense.  We have whales and dolphins doing it.  How else could mammals come out of the sea to land as theorized. Otherwise  more mutations would have had to occur once they came out.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Carnoferox 6 years ago
Live birth was common among prehistoric marine reptiles, so this comes as no surprise. Plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, ichthyosaurs, mesosaurs, and possibly choristoderes were viviparous.
Comment icon #3 Posted by glorybebe 6 years ago
Funny how I have a National Geographic DVD on how they believed there were live births with prehistoric marine animals.  It is 10 years old and they had figured this out back then. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Carnoferox 6 years ago
Live birth in prehistoric marine reptiles has been known for a long time, ever since the discovery of an Ichthyosaurus specimen in the process of giving birth in 1845


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