A new species of fossilized creature has been identified in Portugal, giving scientists an unprecedented view into the evolution of some of the mysterious sea monsters that patrolled the world’s oceans millions of years ago. The fossil, which was discovered in the Portuguese region of Algarve, belongs to a new genus and species of ichthyosaur known as Daspletosaurus lusitanicus.
Ichthyosaurs were a group of marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic era, at the same time as the dinosaurs. These creatures were renowned for their long, serpent-like bodies that could reach lengths up to 66 feet long and were adapted for life in the water. The newly identified species is the first of its kind to be recognized in Portugal, providing researchers with a unique opportunity to explore the evolution of these prehistoric sea monsters.
The fossilized specimen of D. lusitanicus is remarkably well preserved, allowing scientists to construct a detailed picture of the species. It measures about 7 feet long and has sharp-pointed teeth, suggesting that it was a predator that was adept at catching fish and other small prey. It also features rounded paddle-shaped limbs, which would have helped it to better manoeuvre within the water while swimming.
What is most interesting about the fossil is that it bridges the gap between the primitive ichthyosaurs of the Triassic period and the more-advanced species that appeared during the Jurassic period. This suggests that ichthyosaurs underwent a period of rapid evolution during this time, producing many new species capable of surviving in the changing aquatic environments.
This newly identified species could provide researchers with a valuable window into the evolutionary history of prehistoric sea monsters and could give us insight into the adaptations they needed to survive in the oceans that existed millions of years ago.