Motorboat-Size Sea Monster Found, Sheds Insight on Evolution
The 170-million-year-old marine reptile comes from a prehistoric period little known to scientists.
Ichthyosaur (pronounced ik-thee-uh-sawr) means "fish lizard" in Greek. These predatory reptiles swam the ancient oceans in roles similar to those of whales and sharks today.
Now, a team of scientists in Scotland has announced the discovery of a new genus of ichthyosaur that was approximately 14 feet (4.3 meters) long, the size of a small motorboat. (Also see "First Amphibious 'Sea Monster' Found; Fills Evolutionary Gap.")
"We've discovered a totally new species of big reptile that lived in the ocean about 170 million years ago," said Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh. "It's also the first ichthyosaur ever found in Scotland"—which is already famous for its mythical sea monster, nicknamed Nessie.
Brusatte and his colleagues named