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Can you imagine just digging along, doing the whole archeology thang, when all of a sudden you come across a fossil so large it completely stops you in your tracks? That's what happened to a group of researchers in India when they came across what is believed to be the first Jurassic ichthyosaur.
For those of you not entirely well-versed on Jurassic creatures, don't worry (who the hell is?) We'll go ahead and provide a little background information on the ichthyosaur. Erm, well, actually the dudes who conducted the research will provide a little background information. The discovery came as a result of a new PLOS ONE study, where the ichthyosaur is described as — "The 5.5-meter-long (18 feet) marine reptile likely ate shelled marine animals known as ammonites and other crunchy prey."
The ichthyosaur in the image below measures 18 feet, however, they can reach a record 30 feet in growth. Yikes! We're pretty glad these bad boys are extinct. Who would want to deal with that every time they wanted to take a quick dip? Sharks are terrifying enough, thank you very much.
Image Credit: Prasad et al., 2017; Guntupalli Prasad
In an interview with lead researcher, Guntupalli Prasad, interviewer Beth Baker was able to uncover more information about this elusive Ichthyosaur. Despite sounding like total nightmare fuel, they're fascinating creatures:
"Ichthyosaurs or 'fish lizards' resembled modern dolphins and whales and lived between 250 and 90 million years ago. The Earth, initially assembled into a single supercontinent, Pangaea, was at that time breaking up into Laurasia and Gondwanaland. Ichthyosaurs lived in the oceans in a warm and humid climate. Their main marine competitors were plesiosaurs, another group of marine reptiles, and sharks. While the dinosaurs were dominating the land, the pterosaurs, flying reptiles, were the rulers of the air."
Pretty interesting stuff, guys. Just goes to show how much really exists beneath the earth's surface. Think about that next time you drunkenly pass out on the beach — you could be sleeping on a whole sea of prehistoric creatures.