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Triassic ichthyosaur was super-predator that will have been largest ever animal



New fossil discoveries present predatory marine reptiles from 200 million years in the past might have been greater than right this moment’s blue whales – and that they advanced astonishingly quickly


29 December 2022

Artist’s impression of Stenopterygius quadriscissus, an ichthyosaur

dotted zebra / Alamy Inventory Photograph

PREHISTORIC Earth was a spot of monsters. There have been 2.5-metre-long millipedes, flying reptiles with 11-metre wingspans and snakes that weighed over a tonne. But when it’s the largest animal of all time you’re in search of, standard knowledge says you don’t must step again in time. The blue whale is thought to attain 30 metres in size and to weigh 199 tonnes. Nothing else in additional than half a billion years of animal evolution comes shut, not even the biggest dinosaur.

Typical knowledge may be mistaken. The fossil document could also be concealing an animal that was even greater than a blue whale. For many years there was a sluggish trickle of proof {that a} really huge super-predator swam the seas between 200 and 250 million years in the past. Now, a string of discoveries and reanalysis of earlier findings has dramatically bolstered the case.

The implications are far-reaching. We don’t know precisely what this large animal regarded like and it doesn’t also have a title. We’ve, nevertheless, begun to work out how such a huge creature might feed itself within the prehistoric seas. Affirmation that it outgrew the blue whale would inform us that we might have drastically underestimated how massive toothed carnivores can develop. Greater than that, the invention that such leviathans appeared shortly after essentially the most devastating mass extinction in Earth’s historical past suggests we might must rethink the elements that drive evolution on such an epic scale.

When dinosaurs dominated the land, a number of teams of marine reptiles dominated …

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