13-foot marine predator found inside another's belly in shocking fossil 'turducken'
Dolphin-like reptiles called ichthyosaurs were thought to pick off small, squishy prey. But a new fossil suggests they may have been early ”megapredators.”
About 240 million years ago, a massive marine reptile swallowed another, slightly less massive reptile and died shortly thereafter. The larger creature—a dolphin-like reptile known as an ichthyosaur—then fossilized with the smaller animal in its belly.
The two reptiles remained locked in stone until 2010, when scientists in southwestern China began excavating the fossil. Now, the scientists say that much of what we thought we knew about life and death in the prehistoric ocean could be upended by this sea monster turducken. (For the uninitiated: A turducken is a culinary oddity made by cooking a deboned chicken that’s inside a deboned duck that’s inside a deboned turkey.)
In the unique fossil, the smaller creature in the ichthyosaur’s belly was a thalattosaur, an