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Oldest Ichthyosaur fossil discovered in Arctic island of Spitsbergen, pushes back origins of marine reptiles

Oldest known ichthyosaur has been discovered in Arctic island of Spitsbergen, pushing back the origin and early diversification of the extinct marine reptiles to before the beginning of the Age of Dinosaurs.

This is according to a study published in Current Biology by a team of Swedish and Norwegian paleontologists.


The ichthyosaur fossils found are identical to those of much younger and larger-bodied ichthyosaurs, and even preserve internal bone microstructure showing adaptive hallmarks of fast growth, elevated metabolism, and a fully oceanic lifestyle.

This discovery suggests that at least some major reptile lineages predated the Age of Dinosaurs.

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