An 18-foot ichthyosaur has been discovered almost fully intact in India, an extremely rare find in the Southern Hemisphere.
An incredible discovery in India of a giant ichthyosaur, a sea-dwelling creature that lived more than 150 million years ago, has come as a complete surprise to scientists due to the rarity of finding such a specimen in the Southern Hemisphere. The 18-foot fish-like reptile was found in excellent condition buried along with its prey, shelled ammonites, a relative of the modern-day nautilus.
Despite its large size, this ichthyosaur isn’t even close to the largest ever found. Adults can range from four and a half meters to nine meters, or just under 30 feet, in length. This specimen was found in the Kachchh range, which is located in Gujarat, a territory in western India.
Ichthyosaurs are far more commonly found in North American and Europe, so finding one so far south of the equator is a rather stunning revelation. It also may show we have a lot more to learn about this fearsome ancient creature.
“A new near-complete fossilized skeleton is thought to represent the first Jurassic ichthyosaur found in India, according to a study published October 25, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Guntupalli Prasad from the University of Delhi, India, and colleagues,” reads the statement from PLOS. “Ichthyosaurs, literally ‘fish lizards’ in Greek, were large marine reptiles which lived alongside dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era. While many ichthyosaur fossils have been found in North American and Europe, in the Southern Hemisphere, their fossil record has mostly been limited to South America and Australia.”