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Fossilized ichthyosaur has skin and blubber


Posted on Thursday, 6 December, 2018 | Comment icon 8 comments

Ichthyosaurs thrived in the ocean for around 160 million years. Image Credit: Heinrich Harder
The 180 million-year-old specimen was originally discovered at Holzmaden quarry in Germany.
Ichthyosaurs, which looked very similar to today's dolphins despite having no relation to them, would have been a common sight in the prehistoric seas between 250 million and 90 million years ago.

Now scientists studying a well-preserved specimen held at Urweltmuseum Hauff in Germany have discovered what appears to be traces of skin and blubber - something rarely seen in fossils.

The find has revealed that these prehistoric marine reptiles were warm-blooded and had smooth skin - just like today's dolphins and whales - rather than cold-blooded and scaly like most reptiles.

They also had darker coloration on their underside, most likely to make them harder to spot.

"Ichthyosaurs are interesting because they have many traits in common with dolphins, but are not at all closely related to those sea-dwelling mammals," said study co-author Prof. Mary Schweitzer.

"This is the first direct, chemical evidence for warm-bloodedness in an ichthyosaur, because blubber is a feature of warm-blooded animals."

Source: BBC News | Comments (8)

Tags: Ichthyosaur

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Nnicolette on 6 December, 2018, 14:01
Wait this is news to me! Have we seen evidence of any dinisaurs being warm blooded before? I mean i guess birds are..
Comment icon #2 Posted by Mr.United_Nations on 6 December, 2018, 15:15
These are not dinosaurs but marine reptiles. But warm blooded dinosaurs have been delayed for many many years
Comment icon #3 Posted by third_eye on 6 December, 2018, 15:34
Gene Splicing DNA here we go ! ~
Comment icon #4 Posted by Essan on 6 December, 2018, 15:46
Don;t think you can get DNA from fossils, however well preserved in rock the soft material might be.
Comment icon #5 Posted by third_eye on 6 December, 2018, 15:47
I know ... I was just preempting the Jurassic World Fandom nerds ... ~
Comment icon #6 Posted by Essan on 6 December, 2018, 15:52
And I thought I should add the "preserved in rock" bit before someone gets the wrong idea on what's actually been preserved †††† I still remember what happened when they found fossilised soft matter from a T-Rex a few years back ....
Comment icon #7 Posted by Orphalesion on 6 December, 2018, 15:54
Well the absolutely awesome part about this is that it can help produce more accurate reconstructions of ichtyosaurs.
Comment icon #8 Posted by third_eye on 6 December, 2018, 15:54
Yeah ...† and this little bit here will just blow their minds ... ~ ~ ... and set their hair standing on their ends ... ~ †


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