Scientists find fossils of one of the biggest creatures that ever lived on Earth

Ichthyosaurs reached 20 meters in length.  The fossils were located in the altitudes of the Swedish Alps.  (Photo: Reproduction/Matthew Power)

Ichthyosaurs reached 20 meters in length. The fossils were located in the altitudes of the Swiss Alps. (Photo: Playback/Matthew Power)

  • Among the discoveries is the largest ichthyosaur tooth ever found.

  • Folding of the Alps may explain unusual location of fossils

  • Animals were 80 tons and went extinct 90 million years ago

You fossils of three giant ichthyosaurs have been found by researchers in the heights of the Swiss Alps, according to a publication in the specialized vehicle “Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology”, last Thursday (28).

Known as the “fish lizard”, the animal became extinct 90 million years ago. The creatures could reach 80 tons and 20 meters in length, rivaling modern sperm whales.

Although these creatures once ruled the seas, fossils are rare, which created a great mystery for paleontologists until the discovery of these remains.

“We believe the large ichthyosaurs followed schools of fish in the lagoon. The fossils may also derive from stray animals that died there,” study co-author Heinz Furrer, a retired curator at the University of Zurich Paleontological Institute and Museum, explained in a statement.

One possible explanation for the discovery at altitudes is the folding of the Alps, which began 95 million years ago when the African tectonic plate began pushing the European tectonic plate, creating piles of rock layers about 30 to 40 million years ago. .

The fossils were “tectonically warped,” crushed by the movements of tectonic plates that pushed them into a rock formation on top of a mountain.

“You have to be a mountain goat species to access the relevant beds,” said lead study author P. Martin Sander, professor of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Bonn in Germany, in a statement.

fossils found

The fossils belonged to three different ichthyosaurs. One was about 20 meters long, while the other was 18 meters long and the third was not identified.

According to the researchers, the most exciting discovery associated with these fossils is the largest ichthyosaur tooth ever found.

“This is huge by ichthyosaur standards: its root was 60 millimeters in diameter – the largest specimen still in a complete skull to date was 20 millimeters,” Sander said.

Scientists know that smaller ichthyosaurs had teeth, but most giants had no teeth, and it was assumed that they fed on cephalopods such as squid by suction.

Giant toothed ichthyosaurs were likely similar to today’s sperm whales and orcas, using their teeth to capture prey like giant squid.

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