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Scientifically Correct Life-Size Reconstruction of Ancient Fish Lizard

Geologists at Lund University in Sweden have mapped 300 years of research on the prehistoric marine reptiles known as ichthyosaurs. Using a uniquely well-preserved fossil, the team has also created the scientifically most up-to-date reconstruction of an ichthyosaur currently available.

Fish lizards, or ichthyosaurs, were a very successful group of animals that, much like today’s whales, migrated from land to the oceans where they thrived for about 160 million years. These dolphin-like reptiles lived from the Early Triassic to the Late Cretaceous, about the same time as dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

The fish lizards, who sustained themselves on a diet of turtles and octopuses, among other things, have left behind a rich fossil record. This consists mostly of bones and teeth, but recently the discovery of soft tissues — such as skin, muscles, fat, and pigment — has opened up new opportunities for understanding the biology and ecology of these animals.

In a new study published in Earth-Science Reviews, a group of geologists at Lund University has analyzed existing fish lizard research – something that will benefit future paleontologists.

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