Researchers discover a new marine reptile that lived about 250 million years ago

- Advertisement -

A joint scientific team from Poland and China documented a new marine reptile that thrived approximately 250 million years ago in present-day China.

This discovery provides fresh insights into the evolutionary development of extinct reptiles’ aquatic lifestyles and reinforces the close kinship between turtles and dinosaurs along with their relatives.

Dr. Andrzej Wolniewicz from the Institute of Paleobiology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, and Hefei University of Technology in China spearheaded the research. The findings were published in the eLife journal.

The recently identified marine reptile is named Prosaurosphargis yingzishanensis. Measuring 1.5 metres in length, its physique resembled that of a colossal lizard. This reptile was distinguished by broad ribs and bony plates along its back, forming a protective armour likely utilised as both ballast and defence against predators.

“This animal was a representative of an extinct group of marine reptiles called saurosphargids (Saurosphargidae), previously known from the Middle Triassic (247-237 million years ago) in Poland and southern China. The reptile lived in a shallow, highly saline lagoon, which in the Early Triassic (about 250 million years ago) was located in what is now Hubei Province in southern China.

- Advertisement -

Wolniewicz’s team used phylogenetic methods to establish the relationship between saurosphargids and other reptile groups (phylogenetics examines the evolutionary pathways of organisms).

The analysis showed that the probable terrestrial ancestors of lizards had a well-developed skin armour. The discovery sheds new light on the evolution of the aquatic lifestyle of extinct reptiles.

“By acting as ballast, it enabled early representatives of this group to inhabit saltwater environments and move along the seabed in search of food. Some of them continued to develop their armour, however, in the species best adapted to life in water, including plesiosaurs, the armour was eventually reduced,” said the scientist.

The results of the work of the Polish-Chinese team also confirm the close relationship between archosaurs (crocodiles, dinosaurs , birds and their relatives) and turtles.

“The relationship analysis conducted by my research team, based entirely on paleontological (anatomical) data, indicates a close relationship between turtles and archosaurs. Moreover, it confirms the results of previous research, according to which archosaurs, turtles, as well as three groups of Mesozoic marine reptiles – ichthyosaurs (fish-rats), lizard-finned lizards and thalatosaurs – belonged to a huge group of reptiles called archelosaurs (Archelosauria), which achieved incredible evolutionary success, said Wolniewicz.

Header Image Credit : A. Wolniewicz

"DinosaurDaily" is your premier destination for the latest and most fascinating updates in paleontology, specifically centered around the captivating world of dinosaurs. Immerse yourself in a rich tapestry of news articles, insightful features, and captivating discoveries brought to you by leading experts and researchers in the field.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

First discovery of a tyrannosaur skeleton with well-preserved stomach contents

The Tyrannosauridae family, colossal carnivorous dinosaurs reigning over terrestrial ecosystems around 80-66 million years ago during the Late...

Insects already had a variety of defense strategies in the Cretaceous

Examinations of amber have revealed that insect larvae had already developed a diverse array of defensive tactics to shield themselves from predators 100 million years ago.

Flowers were more diverse 100 million years ago

A group of international researchers, including botanists from the University of Vienna, Austria, has conducted a comprehensive analysis of fossilized flowers, comparing their morphological variety with that of present-day species.

Extinct marine creatures hidden in Thai sanctuary

Ten previously undiscovered species of trilobites, concealed for approximately 490 million years within an under-explored area of Thailand, may represent crucial elements in unraveling the complex puzzle of ancient world geography.

Researchers explain the coexistence of animal and plant forms from approximately 427 million years ago

Scholars from the University of Warsaw and the Polish Academy of Sciences elucidated the enigmatic coexistence of animal and plant life forms within the coastal sea shallows around 427 million years ago.

Pliosaurs were larger much earlier than previously thought

Pliosaurs, a subset within the plesiosaur group, were found to attain remarkable sizes far earlier than previously believed, as indicated by research conducted by an international team, including a scientist affiliated with the Polish Academy of Sciences. This discovery provides new insights into the evolutionary trajectory of these formidable oceanic predators.

Microfossils discovered by University of Leicester scientist date back half a billion years

A recent discovery by a University of Leicester scientist has unveiled a novel fossil type shedding light on...

Genomes of enigmatic tusk shells provide new insights into early Molluscan evolution

Accurate phylogenetic trees serve as essential tools in evolutionary and comparative biology. However, the sudden emergence of major animal...