Scientists Discover Jurassic-Era Fossil of ‘Fish Lizard’ in Gujarat’s Kutch Desert

Friday, October 27, 2017

The skull and tail bones of the 152 million-year-old fossilized skeleton of the ichthyosaur, found for the first time in India, are missing.

Scientists have discovered a 152 million-year-old fossil of an ichthyosaur – an extinct marine reptile from the Jurassic era – in Gujarat, BBC reported. This is the first time the fossil has been found in India.

The finds were published in the PLOS One science journal. It was found inside the rocks in the Kutch desert.

The fossilised skeleton of the ichthyosaur, which means ‘fish lizard’ in Greek, is in almost pristine state, PTI reported. Only parts of the skull and tail bones were found to be missing. According to the team that discovered this fossil, the specimen can be identified with Ophthalmosauridae, a family of ichthyosaurs that lived in the oceans between 165 and 90 million years ago.

“It throws light on the evolution and diversity of ichthyosaurs in the Indo-Madagascan region of the former Gondwanaland and India’s biological connectivity with other continents in the Jurassic,” said Professor Guntupalli Prasad from Delhi university’s Department of Geology, who led the study.

An examination of the teeth suggests that the reptile was a top-tier predator in its ecosystem, the geologists added. According to the Encyclopaedia of Paleontology, the ichthyosaur could grow anywhere between 1 m and 14 m, and was known for its sharp teeth.