Remains of ancient ichthyosaur ancestor found: this is a new species of unusual size

In a new paper published in the journal PeerJ, researchers from China and Canada report a major new early

an ichthyosauromorph named Baisesaurus robustus. His remains were found in southwest China. The discovery expands the known geographic distribution of early ichthyosauromorphs.

In 2017, Geological Survey field teamsGuizhou discovered vertebrate bones in limestone rocks in the Zhebao region of Guangxi province in southwest China. Experts confirmed that the fossil belonged to a marine reptile, possibly related to ichthyosaurs.

Among the remains found is the front of the skeletontrunk, including several vertebrae and ribs, limb bones, and abdominal bones. This made classification difficult, but in a new study, scientists compared the fossil comprehensively with other early Triassic marine reptiles and ultimately identified it as an ichthyosauromorph.

Overall, Baisesaurus robustus has more in commonwith Utatsusaurus from Japan, another early ichthyosauromorph, than with other marine reptiles. The researchers also found some unusual features not seen in other early ichthyosauromorphs, such as deep depressions along the sides of the vertebrae and a strong radius with two separate articular facets for contact with the carpal bones. These features indicate that the fossil belongs to a previously unknown species, which the researchers named Baisesaurus robustus. What's more, Baisesaurus is estimated to be around 3m long, making this newly discovered marine reptile significantly larger than any other early Triassic ichthyosauromorph from China.

Ichthyosaurs are a group of Mesozoic marine reptileswhose remains are found all over the world. Their evolutionary origin is still unclear. However, in recent years, scientists have found many new marine reptiles related to ichthyosaurs in the rocks of the early Triassic. We are talking about early ichthyosauromorphs, whose study helped scientists learn more about the origin of ichthyosaurs.

Their remains have been found in many countries, butmost of the early ichthyosauromorphs come from China, including Cartorhynchus, Chaohusaurus and several members of the ichthyosauromorph subgroup, Hupehsuchia. As a rule, they are small (about 1 m in length) and come from the eastern and central regions of China.

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