Jurassic Sea Creature Was Warm-Blooded And Similar To Dolphins

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Ancient reptiles have always been one of the most exciting topics for science. While giant dinosaurs were walking on the surface of the Earth, sea beasts were also living in the oceans. One particular Jurassic sea creature, however, might have been warm-blooded and very similar to modern-day dolphins.

Stenopterygius ichthyosaur, the sea beast in question, lived in the Jurassic era, about 180 million years ago. Recent studies, involving the molecular and microstructural analysis of the creature, revealed that it possessed a skin similar to whales and, like dolphins, it was colored in dark tones on the top and lighter nuances on the bottom to protect themselves against predators, as reported in the new study conducted by the researchers from North Carolina State University.

“Ichthyosaurs are interesting because they have many traits in common with dolphins, but are not at all closely related to those sea-dwelling mammals,” said Professor Mary Schweitzer.

Jurassic Sea Creature, Stenopterygius ichthyosaur, Was Warm-Blooded And Similar To Dolphins

“We aren’t exactly sure of their biology either. They have many features in common with living marine reptiles like sea turtles, but we know from the fossil record that they gave live birth, which is associated with warm-bloodedness. This study reveals some of those biological mysteries,” Mary Schweitzer added.

“Both the body outline and remnants of internal organs are clearly visible. The ancient reptiles looked a lot like dolphins and may have been warm-blooded and insulated by blubber. Remarkably, the fossil is so well-preserved that it is possible to observe individual cellular layers within its skin,” also said Johan Lindgren, the co-author of this study on Stenopterygius ichthyosaur.

The scientists also identified in this Jurassic sea creature a material common in vertebrate blubber which is only found in those animals which are able to keep their body temperature regardless of the ambient conditions.