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Enormous marine reptile discovered

  • April 24, 2024
  • 2 min read
Enormous marine reptile discovered

A newly discovered species of marine reptile could be among the largest creatures ever to swim through the planet’s oceans. Ichthyotitan severnensis or the giant fish lizard, lived over 200 million years ago and could rival even the blue whale in terms of size.

It belonged to the Ichthyosaur family, a diverse group of marine reptiles that lived during the Mesezoic era, the time best known for the dinosaurs. These reptiles look like a mix between a fish and a dolphin and could range from around 2 to 20 metres (6.5 to 66 feet) in length. Now however, that upper may be challenged following the discovery of a much bigger species.

Ichthyotitan severnensis, the latter part of its name coming from the River Severn, is estimated to be up to 25 metres or 82 feet in length, putting it close to the length of a blue whale and making it the largest known marine reptile ever.

Patagotitan, a long-necked dinosaur, is thought to be the largest land animal ever, measuring 37 meters (121 feet) in length. However, it weighs less than a quarter that of a blue whale, estimated to have tipped the scales at around 70 tons. Despite this, the newly discovered reptile is believed to have a bulk that resembles that of the whale, making it a contender in that department.

Researchers, however, have yet to estimate its weight and caution that even its length is up for debate until more fossils are discovered. Known only from two jawbone specimens, one found on a beach in Somerset in 2016, Ichthyotitan was not scientifically described until 2018, with the researchers awaiting further discoveries to learn more about it. Hopefully, more fossils are found to shed light on this interesting animal.

The research was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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