Ancient Sea Monster: 150 Million-Year-Old Fossils Discovered in India (PHOTO)

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Archaeologist tools - Sputnik International
Researchers have uncovered the 150 million-year-old fossilized remains of a huge marine reptile called an ichthyosaur in the Kachchh region of Gujarat, India.

According to lead researcher Guntupalli Prasad, the 5.5-meter-long marine "fish lizard" lived among dinosaurs. 

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In an interview with nonprofit research organization PLOS, Prasad explained that ichthyosaurs resembled modern dolphins and whales and existed between 250 and 90 million years ago.

Guntupalli also said that he was surprised by the location of this fossil, since bone fragments rather than near-complete skeletons, are usually found in the Kachchh region. The fossil's location also suggests that ichthyosaurs, which originated in Europe, moved between Europe, western India, Madagascar and South America — none of which were in their present locations, of course, but were part of a mega-continent called Gondwanaland.

"This is a remarkable discovery not only because it is the first Jurassic ichthyosaur record from India, but also 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," Prasad said.

It also appears as though the ichthyosaur had large, strong teeth and feasted on crunchy food.

"We could infer from wear patterns on its teeth that the ichthyosaur was a top-tier predator that fed on hard and abrasive foods materials, including marine molluscs (ammonoids and belemnites), fish and possible other marine reptiles," Prasad said, in response to a question about the jurassic reptile's likely lifestyle.

Prasad and his team of researchers are hoping to continue exploring the Kachchh region for more ichthyosaur fossils and other marine animals.

"We hope that our find may lead to renewed interest in vertebrate fossil research in this region, which could bring new discoveries to light," Prasad said.

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