Fossil of the largest-ever icthyosaur (and other marine giants) found in the Alps

(Dr.) Heinz Furrer

An artist’s perception of an icthyosaur hunting in the Triassic seas

Paleontologists have found fossils in the Swiss Alps from some of the largest animals ever, more than 20 meters long – including the world’s largest icthyosaurus.

Scientists have found fossils of ancient marine animals in the Swiss Alps that have reached more than 20 meters long. This means that these creatures would have been the largest animals that ever lived.

According to LiveScience, at stake are ikthyosaurs – and one of the fossils discovered by scientists It is the largest tooth ever found of these beings.

The width of the tooth root is twice as big than any other known aquatic reptile, as the largest single tooth root identified to date belonged to a 15 meter long ikthyosaurus.

According to the article, paleontologists have also identified the largest vertebral column found in all of Europe, proving the existence of an icthyosaurus that could exceeds the largest sample size of a well-known sea reptile – “Shastasaurus sikanniensis” -, 21 meters long, found in Canada.

The place where the fossils were discovered during the mapping operation of the Alpine geological formation was more than 200 million years ago the seabed that became with the formation of the Alps. at an altitude of more than 2800 metersexplained Heinz Furrerone of the authors of the study.

similar to dolphins, the icthyosaurs were 80-ton reptiles with an elongated body and vertical tail fins that lived 205 million years ago in Pantalassa, the vast ocean that surrounds the supercontinent Pangea.

Heinz Furrer, now retired curator of the Paleontological Institute and Museum at the University of Zurich, described the discovery as “the world’s longest icthyosaur with the thickest tooth and largest body vertebra in Europe to date.”


Performance of Ichthyosaurus (E) and Plesiosaurus (D), by Édouard Riou (1863).

The author of the article, Martin SandlerFrom the University of Bonn, said he hoped this would not be the last great fossil of the species. “Perhaps there are even more remnants of giant creatures hidden there under the glaciers ’.

Paleontologists admit that little is known about giant ikthyosaurs.

Previous studies by researchers in the United Kingdom and New Zealand showed that these animals were approximately the size of a blue whale, and a 1978 article described the vertebrae of an ichthyosaurus 45 centimeters in diameter.

“It is a great shame for paleontology that we know so little about these giant icthyosaurs despite the exceptional size of their fossils. We hope to meet this challenge and soon find new and better fossils,” said author Martin Sandler.

The results of the study were published in a scientific journal on Thursday Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Leave a Comment