The fossil of the largest marine reptile that ever existed, a 25-meter ichthyosaur, has been discovered


By John

What could be the largest marine reptile known so far has been discovered: it is a new species of ichthyosaur dating back to 202 million years ago, which according to paleontologists' estimates could reach 25 meters in length, double the length of a bus.

Fragments of its giant jaw, more than two meters long, were recovered by a teenager fossil hunting with her father on a beach in Somerset, UK (little Ruby Reynolds was 11 years old in 2020 when she found part of the fossil) .

The study is published in the journal Plos One by an international team of experts, led by the University of Manchester, in which the Italian paleontologist Marcello Perillo at the University of Bonn also took part.

His analyzes of the internal structure of the bone confirm its belonging to the ichthyosaur group and reveal that the animal was still growing at the time of death.

The jaw found is similar in shape and size to another bone found a few years ago in the same rock formation a few kilometers away. Paleontologists led by Dean Lomax believe that both finds belong to a new species of ichthyosaur that lived at the end of the Triassic which was called Ichthyotitan severnensis.

Ichthyosaurs were large marine reptiles similar in appearance to modern dolphins.

The first appeared about 250 million years ago, at the beginning of the Triassic.

Within a few million years, some species have evolved to reach at least 15 meters in length.

At the end of the Triassic, about 200 million years ago, larger species such as Ichthyotitan severnensis had already appeared, but their reign did not last long: their disappearance, which occurred during the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction, left the place for the smaller ichthyosaurs.