2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
BU 5289. Ruler - 10 centimeters
British paleontologists have discovered in fossils found in the British Isles, the smallest representative of the ichthyosaur species Ichthyosaurus communis. Under the ribs of the animal, they found traces of its last meal - a prehistoric squid. The article was published in the journal Historical Biology.
Ichthyosaurus (Latin Ichthyosaurus) is a species of extinct marine reptiles of the order of ichthyosaurs of the early Jurassic period. Their habitual habitat was the territory of the British Isles - it was there in 1821 that British paleontologists Henry de la Béche and William Conybear found (and described for the first time) the fossils of one of the representatives of this species. To date, five species of ichthyosaurs have been found, among which the species Ichthyosaurus communis is the type one.
The authors of the new work studied fossils from the Museum of Geology in Lapworth (Birmingham, UK) and found among them the skeleton of the smallest known to date Ichthyosaurus communis. Analysis of a small fragment from the back of BU 5289 (as the researchers named the found representative) made it possible to attribute the animal to the period between the Late Gettangian (about 201 million years ago) and the early Sinemurian (about 199 million years ago) stages of the lower Jurassic system.
Skeleton fossils BU 5289
The length of the skeleton found is 56 centimeters, which is more than half the length of previously found representatives of this species (130 centimeters). Since BU 5289 was not found inside a larger individual and had a developed skeleton, the scientists concluded that they were not the remains of an embryo, but rather a young (newborn) representative of the species.
Under the ribs of BU 5289 (in the area of the digestive system), scientists found traces of a prehistoric representative of the cephalopod class: this allowed them to conclude that the last meal of the animal was a squid.
Fossils of the ribs of the skeleton BU 5289. Arrows indicate the found footprints of cephalopods. Ruler - 1 centimeter
Scientists note that their finding is important for studying the dietary habits of young ichthyosaurs: before that, paleontologists believed that large prehistoric marine inhabitants ate exclusively on fish.
Scientists recently discovered that the largest representative of ichthyosaurs found turned out to be a pregnant female - you can read about this in our article.