A shockingly tiny historic sea monster lurked in shallow waters

ancient nothosaur fossil

Round 240 million years in the past, massive reptiles known as nothosaurs dominated the seas. Those now-extinct sea monsters grew more or less 5 meters lengthy or longer and flicked their lengthy tails to hurry during the water, chasing down fish.

Now researchers have discovered fossils of one of those mini nothosaur with options that counsel the creature lived an excessively other way of life from its larger cousins. Brevicaudosaurus jiyangshanensis will have lurked at the shallow seafloor, floating immobile till unsuspecting prey were given too shut, say researchers, who describe the brand new species October 28 within the Magazine of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Two B. jiyangshanensis fossils had been present in quarries a few kilometer aside in South China. Their measurement — almost about a part meter lengthy, or in regards to the measurement of a beagle — made the workforce to begin with suppose that it had stumbled upon child nothosaurs, says Xiao-Chun Wu, a paleobiologist on the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

Two Brevicaudosaurus jiyangshanensis fossils
Two Brevicaudosaurus jiyangshanensis fossils (proven) which can be more or less 55 centimeters lengthy had been found out in South China.Q.-H. Shang, X.-C. Wu and C. Li/Magazine of Vertebrate Paleontology 2020

However the bones advised a distinct tale. “Within the younger [nothosaurs], the bones — particularly within the limbs — are roundish,” Wu says. Alternatively, the bones in those fossils had been advanced into well-defined shapes, and the cranium bones at the aspect of the pinnacle had been fused, proof that the creatures had been adults. 

B. jiyangshanensis had more than a few options now not discovered on larger nothosaurs. Its tail used to be brief, large and flat, and its bones had been dense, all of which can have helped the reptile steadiness its frame because it floated in shallow water.

“That is the primary discovery of a small-sized species of a big-sized crew,” Wu says. “This can be a very new way of life we now find out about nothosaurs.”

The newly described reptile will have had massive lungs relative to its frame measurement, in comparison with different nothosaurs, serving to it to stick underwater for longer. However long run skeletal research are had to verify that.