The fossil of a marine reptile that lived 199 million years in the past has been recognized as a new child that ate squid as its final meal.
The reptile was an ichthyosaur, which gave delivery to reside younger.
It belongs to the group Ichthyosaurus communis, which was the primary species of ichthyosaur to be recognised by science in 1821.
The “distinctive” specimen is the primary juvenile of its species to be recognized, say researchers.
The reptile had remnants of squid inside its abdomen when it died.
“Many tiny hook-like buildings are preserved between the ribs,” mentioned Dean Lomax of the College of Manchester, UK.
“These are from the arms of prehistoric squid. So, we all know this animal’s final meal earlier than it died was squid.”
Ichthyosaurs occupy a particular place within the historical past of fossil gathering within the UK.
Most of the first specimens have been collected alongside the Dorset coast or in quarries in Somerset within the 19th Century.
About 1,000 fossils are held in museums and different collections all over the world. But, there are only a few specimens of newborns and most are incomplete.
The specimen was recognized as a juvenile from the form of its cranium bones.
“This specimen is virtually full and is phenomenal,” mentioned Dean Lomax.
Nigel Larkin of the College of Cambridge recognised the significance of the fossil when he was analyzing specimens from the Lapworth Museum of Geology on the College of Birmingham.
Nevertheless, there was no report of the place the fossil was collected or its age.
Researchers on the College of Birmingham analysed a tiny part of rock across the skeleton for the presence of microfossils.
They deduced that the ichthyosaur hails from round 199-196 million years in the past. The signature of the rock suggests it initially got here from what’s now Gloucestershire.
“Many historic ichthyosaur specimens in museums lack any geographic or geological particulars and are subsequently undated,” mentioned Nigel Larkin. “This strategy of searching for microfossils of their host rock is likely to be the important thing to unlocking the thriller of many specimens.”
The research has been revealed within the journal Historic Biology.
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