Ichthyosaur (fish lizard): India

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October 2017/ Discovery of remains of 150 million year old marine reptile

Manash Gohain, Remains of 150-million-yr-old marine reptile found in Kutch, October 26, 2017: The Times of India

October 2017, Discovery of remains of 150 million year old marine reptile
From: Manash Gohain, Remains of 150-million-yr-old marine reptile found in Kutch, October 26, 2017: The Times of India

For the first time in the fossil history of India, the remains of a 150 million-year-old marine reptile were discovered in Kutch in Gujarat by a team of Indian and German scientists. The discovery of the 5.5-metre reptile is expected to provide some insights into the diversity and evolution of marine reptiles in the Indian subcontinent. Until now, no Jurassic era ichthyosaur fossils have been reported found in India.

The fossil was chanced upon during routine exploration in the Kutch region and the excavation of the skeleton took over 1,500 man-hours. The specimen is complete except for the posterior part of the skull, hind fins and posterior tail bones.Ichthyosaurs were large reptiles that resembled sharks and whales in their body shape and formed an important component of vertebrate life in the seas between 250 and 90 million years ago, at a time dinosaurs were ruling the land and pterosaurs the air.

Based on a morphological study of snout, forefins, tail and vertebrae, the 152 million-year-old skeleton is identified with the Ophthalmosauridae, a family of ich thyosaurs that lived in the oceans between 165 million and 90 million years ago.

The discovery by the team led by Professor Guntupalli V R Prasad of Delhi University's department of geology is detailed in a paper titled `Discovery of the First Ichthyosaur from the Jurassic of India: Implications for Gondwana Palaeobiogeography' published in the latest issue of PLOS ONE.

Members of the team included Professor D K Pandey of Manipal University , India, Dr Matthias Alberti of Institut für Geowissenschaften, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Berlin, Germany , Professor Franz T Fürsich, GeoZentrum Nordbayern, Friedrich-Alexander-UniversitätErlangen-Nurnberg, Germany , and Professor Mahesh G Thakkar and Gaurav Chauhan of Kachchh University's department of earth and environmental sciences.

“The new find is very important because it is the first fossil ichthyosaur from the Jurassic rocks of India and is expected to provide insights into the diversity and evolution of marine reptiles in the Indian subcontinent and the former Gondwanaland,“ said Prasad. Prior to the present find, such fossils were known only from a few fragmentary and isolated remains (vertebrae and teeth) reported from 100 million-year-old rocks of the Cauvery basin in south India.

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