paleontology

Ichthyosaur’s Last Meal is Evidence of Triassic Megapredation

August 19, 2020

Some 240 million years ago, a dolphin-like ichthyosaur ripped to pieces and swallowed another marine reptile only a little smaller than itself. Then it almost immediately died and was fossilized, preserving the first evidence of megapredation, or a large animal preying on another large animal. The fossil, discovered in 2010 in southwestern China, is described in a paper published Aug. 20 in the journal iScience.

Four Limbs Good, Three Legs Bad?

October 01, 2019
If “Why?” is the first question in science, “Why not?” must be a close second. Sometimes it’s worth thinking about why something does not exist. Such as a truly three-legged animal.

Researchers Describe New Reptile Platypus From the Early Triassic

January 24, 2019
No animal alive today looks quite like a duck-billed platypus, a semi-aquatic, egg-laying mammal hailing from eastern Australia. But about 250 million years ago, something very similar swam the shallow seas in what is now China, finding prey by touch with a cartilaginous bill. The newly discovered marine reptile Eretmorhipis carrolldongi from the lower Triassic period is described in the journal Scientific Reports Jan. 24. 

Explaining Life’s Rapid Evolution on Land

October 13, 2017
Although life arose in the sea, some of its most astonishing evolutionary leaps happened after organisms conquered land, according to UC Davis paleobiologist Geerat Vermeij. Drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge of evolutionary change in the fossil record, Vermeij has identified 11 major innovations that appeared first among terrestrial creatures.

Fossil Discovery Fills Evolutionary Gap

November 05, 2014
The first fossil of an amphibious ichthyosaur has been discovered in China by a team led by researchers at the University of California, Davis.