Round 240 million years in the past, giant reptiles known as nothosaurs dominated the seas. These now-extinct sea monsters grew roughly 5 meters lengthy or longer and flicked their lengthy tails to hurry by way of the water, chasing down fish.
Now researchers have discovered fossils of a sort of mini nothosaur with options that counsel the creature lived a really completely different way of life from its larger cousins. Brevicaudosaurus jiyangshanensis might have lurked on the shallow seafloor, floating immobile till unsuspecting prey acquired too shut, say researchers, who describe the new species October 28 within the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
Two B. jiyangshanensis fossils had been present in quarries a few kilometer aside in South China. Their measurement — nearly a half meter lengthy, or concerning the measurement of a beagle — made the group initially assume that it had stumbled upon child nothosaurs, says Xiao-Chun Wu, a paleobiologist on the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.
Q.-H. Shang, X.-C. Wu and C. Li/Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 2020
However the bones advised a special story. “Within the younger [nothosaurs], the bones — particularly within the limbs — are roundish,” Wu says. Nevertheless, the bones in these fossils had been developed into well-defined shapes, and the cranium bones on the facet of the top had been fused, proof that the creatures had been adults.
B. jiyangshanensis had varied options not discovered on larger nothosaurs. Its tail was brief, broad and flat, and its bones had been dense, all of which might have helped the reptile steadiness its physique because it floated in shallow water.
“That is the primary discovery of a small-sized species of a big-sized group,” Wu says. “This can be a very new way of life we now learn about nothosaurs.”
The newly described reptile might have had giant lungs relative to its physique measurement, in contrast with different nothosaurs, serving to it to remain underwater for longer. However future skeletal research are wanted to substantiate that.