New Sea Monster Found, Rewrites Evolution?
Cretaceous-era reptile Malawania anachronus discovered in Kurdistan.
The newfound—and potentially controversial—Malawania anachronus was a ten-foot (three-meter) long ichthyosaur, a group of dolphin-like creatures that could grow to 65 feet (20 meters) in length. These fast-swimming predators peaked in diversity during the Jurassic period. (Explore an interactive sea-monster time line.)
Oddly, though, new fossil analyses suggest that M. anachronus roamed the oceans of the early Cretaceous period—66 million years after its closely related cousins were thought to live.
That's why Malawania anachronus—Kurdish and Greek for "out-of-time swimmer"—is "something that shouldn't be there, but it is," said study leader Valentin Fischer, a geologist and paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.
"This 'living fossil' of its time demonstrates the existence of a lineage that we