A near-complete Jurassic-era fossil of an intriguing animal that looks like a mashup of a dolphin and lizard has been unearthed in Kutch, Gujarat. Ichthyosaurs or ‘fish- lizards’ in Greek were large reptiles that lived at the same time as dinosaurs. While many ichthyosaur fossils have been found in North America and Europe, the fossil record in the Southern Hemisphere has mostly been limited to South America and Australia.
The 5.5 metre-long skeleton is thought to belong to the Ophthalmosauridae family, which lived likely between 165 and 90 million years ago, when the arid Kutch was a sea. The remains were found among fossils of ammonites and squid-like belemnites, and the way the creature’s teeth were worn out suggest it ate animals with thick, bony coverings, the team of scientists report in the October 25 edition of PLOS ONE.
This also throws light on the evolution and diversity of ichthyosaurs in the Indo-Madagascan region of the former Gondwanaland and India’s biological connectivity with other continents in the Jurassic. Guntupalli Prasad, a geologist at the University of Delhi, said when a fossil bone from the animal’s skeleton was first found by an Indo-German research team in Kutch in 2016, they suspected it to belong to a dinosaur.