- News Home
5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
ScienceShot: The First Sea Monster
7 January 2013 3:00 pm
Researchers have announced the discovery of the first sea monster (artist's impression above)—an 8.6-meter-long reptile with a massive skull (inset) and sharp teeth that lived 244 million years ago. The creature, described online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was an early ichthyosaur, a four-footed reptile turned seafarer. Unlike other ichthyosaurs, however, whose diets consisted mostly of fish and clams, this one would have fed on larger prey, including other ichthyosaurs. Found in 244 million-year-old Triassic rocks, Thalattoarchon saurophagis lived just 4 million years after the first appearance of marine reptiles in the fossil record and lived just 8 million years after the great Permian-Triassic extinction, which wiped out 90% of ocean life. This placement demonstrates both the mercurial evolution of the macropredator and the rapid rise of modern marine ecosystems, the researchers note. The creature also illustrates convergent evolution, showing that some land-dwelling reptiles evolved into sleek-looking sea creatures in much the same way that some mammals evolved into whales and dolphins. The remains of the creature were discovered in 1998 in the remote mountains of central Nevada. A few years later, others reviewing the scientists' field notes learned of the unusual ichthyosaur teeth with two cutting edges. Researchers returned to the site to relocate the fossil and eventually secured a grant from the National Geographic Society to fund an excavation in 2008, revealing the massive skull.
See more ScienceShots.