A large-toothed sea lizard that roamed the oceans 240 million years ago had an underwater float in its body that could lurk fish at the bottom of the shoals. Scientists say the two-legged creature used a short, straight tail for balance, while it was adorned with sharp little teeth.
As they discovered, the ancient creature also had an excellent hearing, which was helpful to avoid being told by sea monsters. The bizarre creature then lived like a seal today – catching food in the water, but it went ashore and spent time on the rocks and beaches.
It belonged to a group of Triassic animals called notosaurs who had long necks and usually an even longer tail.
“Our analysis of two well-preserved skeletons reveals a reptile with a broad, densely bony body and a very short, flattened tail. Fossilized bones were discovered from thin layers of limestone in two quarries in southwest China. The long tail could be used to pull through water creating thrust. , the new species probably preferred to live near the bottom in a shallow sea, where it used its flattened tail for balance, like an underwater float, and thus saved energy while looking for prey, “said the author, Dr. Quing-Hua Shang, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing
An unusual feature helped scientists recognize Brevicaudosaurus jiyangshanensis as a new species. He also had a small head, fangs, limb-like fins and a long neck – just like other nohosaurs. The best-preserved specimen was excavated at the Jiuangshan Quarry.
This invention provides remarkable evidence of the lizard’s way of life. The front limbs are more strongly developed than the hind limbs, which suggests that they played a key role in helping with swimming.
Most of his bones, including his spine and ribs, are thick and dense, which further adds to his stocky, stocky appearance. This would limit its ability to move quickly underwater – but at the same time it would increase its stability.
Very thick ribs may also suggest that the reptile had large lungs that increased the time it could spend below the surface. As the lack of solid weight support suggests, notosaurs were oceanic animals, but they came to the surface for oxygen. They had nostrils on their nostrils through which they breathed.
Brevicaudosaurus, described in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, lived at a time when reptiles ruled the oceans, and included legendary ichthyosaurs that could reach more than 80 meters in length.