Extinct species of marine reptiles discovered from the Jurassic period

The conventional image of animals in Jurassic period is huge, gargantuan Dinosaurs which stomped the land. However, recently British paleontologists have marine reptiles which were as terrifying and ruthless hunters as their cousins on land. The scientists contend that they have uncovered an extinct, new species of a marine reptile of the Jurassic period. Incidentally, the marine reptile has been identified from fossils which were collected almost a century ago.

The new variety has been identified as a British Ichthyosaur and looks structurally much akin to common dolphins and sharks, and they are ocean dwelling reptiles. They were described as fierce predators and could grow up to 15 meters.

These reptiles lived almost 200 million years during the early Jurassic period. The UK was a series of small islands and was much different than what it is today. Researchers from the University of Manchester after a six-year study were able to identify the new type after looking at unique features in the skull and fins of fossilized remains.

The fossilized remains which helped scientists identify the new class on display at the University of Bristol for many years. The research was spearheaded by Dean Lomax, a researcher at the University of Manchester and Judy Massare, a professor at Brockport College, in the US.

Interestingly thousands of visitors have filed past the exhibit at the University but failed to identify it as a new species. The fossilized specimen was originally part of the Chaning Pearce collection which was bought by the Museum in 1915 and given to the university in 1930.

The new species have been christened as Ichthyosaurus larkini in honor of well know British paleontologist Nigel Larkin.

Describing the discovery of the new species, as remarkable Jonathan Hanson, from the University of Bristol said that the new species Ichthyosaur has a feature which resembles both dolphins and modern fishes. The latest discovery has been reproduced in the Journal Papers in Paleontology.