Ichthyosaurs gave birth in “maternity waters”

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There is a place in the state of Nevada where a large number of remains are collected The popular Shonisaurus – one of the largest ichthyosaurs, which grew up to fourteen meters in length. The age of the remains is about 230 million years; in those days there was a tropical sea. For some reason, many of the local ictiauri died at the same time. The reason for their death, of course, is of interest to paleontologists, but perhaps they are more interested in why so many of these dinosaurs ended up in the same place. In addition, quite adult lizards sailed here, teenage ichthyosaurs are almost not found here.

Researchers from the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Oxford, the Free University of Brussels and other research centers have re-examined the remains of ichthyosaurs, of which there are at least 112 in this tomb common prehistoric. Some of them remain embedded in the rock, and the researchers used the latest scanning methods to study the location of the animals relative to each other and build a three-dimensional model of the entire place. Added to this data is information on the chemical composition of the local rocks, old photographs, field notes of those who have studied the local ichthyosaurs before, etc.

The main answer was given, apparently, by computer microtomography and X-rays, with the help of which they studied the structure of the remains walled in stone. In an article in Current biology it is said that in addition to the bones of adult lizards, tiny bones of ichthyosaur embryos and newborn babies can be found here (they were simply not noticed before – they could not be noticed). Researchers believe that ichthyosaurs gathered here for birth, as do various marine animals now, and not only marine animals (for example, gray whales give birth in the Gulf of California, where they sail for the winter) . Therefore, the ichthyosaur cemetery contains the remains of only adult animals and no young ones. The bones of the lizards are distributed in several areas, and some of them differ in age from others by hundreds of thousands of years – that is, ichthyosaurs sailed in these “waters of motherhood” from generation to generation .

But why there was a mass death of ichthyosaurs, researchers still do not know. Previously, it was thought that the lizards died because of toxic algae, which suddenly grew too much, or because of a large volcanic eruption, but new data does not support either hypothesis.


Source: Autonomous non-commercial organization “Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»” from www.nkj.ru.

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