Friday, January 21

Fossil remains of ancient marine reptile shaped like swordfish found in Colombia

The specimen discovered in Villa de Leyva has received the name Kyhytysuka.

Photo: MICHELE SPATARI / AFP / Getty Images

An international team of researchers discovered in Colombia the fossil remains of a new marine reptile that bears an intriguing resemblance to swordfish modern, as published in the journal Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.

The fossil remains discovered, among which the one meter long skull in excellent condition stands out, correspond to that of an ichthyosaur, an extinct species of Ichthyopterygian sauropsids that inhabited the Earth at least 130 million years ago.

The specimen discovered in Villa de Leyva has received the name of Kyhytysuka, which in the Muisca language, typical of indigenous people from the central region of Colombia, means “the one who cuts with something sharp.”

This new ichthyosaur has bigger teeth. (Photo: Dirley Cortés)

Teeth to catch larger prey

Unlike the previously discovered specimens, this new ichthyosaur has bigger teeth, which indicates that it could have eaten larger prey.

“This animal developed a unique dentition that allowed it to eat large prey,” said Hans Larsson, director of the Redpath Museum at McGill University.

“This new species modified the size and spacing of its teeth to build an arsenal of teeth that tear large prey, as occurs in large fish and other marine reptiles,” he added.

Kykytysuka skeleton
Size comparison between the Kykytysuka and the human being. (Photo: Dirley Cortés)

The discovery of Kyhytysuka could help to better understand the evolution of this marine animal. According to experts, this species comes from an important transition period during the Lower Cretaceous period, a time when the Earth was emerging from a relatively cold period and where the water level was rising.

“Many classic Jurassic marine ecosystems of deep-sea feeding ichthyosaurs, short-necked plesiosaurs, and sea-adapted crocodiles were succeeded by new lineages of long-necked plesiosaurs, sea turtles, large marine lizards called mosasaurs, and now this ichthyosaur monster. “Concluded Dirley Cortés, co-author of the investigation.

It is worth mentioning that a team of researchers from the University of Chile found a new species of armored dinosaur after finding a complete 74 million-year-old fossil in the southern Magallanes Region, the most important discovery in Chilean paleontology along with the Chilesaurus diegosuarezi .

With information from DW / José Ignacio Urrejola

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