Navigation Links
Newly discovered paddle prints show how ancient sea reptiles swam
Date:6/11/2014

Trackways formed on an ancient seabed have shed new light on how nothosaurs, ancient marine reptiles that lived during the age of the dinosaurs, propelled themselves through water. The evidence is described by a team from Bristol and China in Nature Communications today.

During the Mesozoic, 252-66 million years ago, the seas were ruled by a variety of marine reptiles. One of the earliest groups were the nothosaurs, voracious semi-aquatic hunters with elongate bodies and paddle-like limbs. They were the top predators of the Triassic coasts, some 245 million years ago.

Their mode of swimming has long been debated: did they row themselves along with a back-and-forth motion of their limbs, or did they 'fly' underwater, sweeping their forepaddles in a figure-eight motion like a modern penguin?

Scientists from the University of Bristol and colleagues in China studied trackways formed on an ancient seabed which were recently discovered in Yunnan, southwest China. The tracks consist of slots in the mud arranged in pairs, and in long series of ten to fifty that follow straight lines and sweeping curves.

The size and spacing of the paired markings indicate that they were created by the forelimbs of nothosaurs, representing animals ranging in size from over 3 metres to less than a metre in length.

They demonstrate that that these reptiles moved over the seafloor by rowing their forelimbs in unison, the first direct evidence of how these creatures propelled themselves in the water.

Two types of nothosaurs, the large Nothosaurus and the diminutive Lariosaurus, known from complete fossil skeletons from the Triassic of southern China, are the likely trackmakers.

Professor Qiyue Zhang from Chengdu Center of China Geological Survey, leader of the research, said: "We interpret the tracks as foraging trails. The nothosaur was a predator, and this was a smart way to feed. As its paddles scooped out the soft mud, they probably disturbed fishes and shrimps, which it snapped up with needle-sharp teeth."

The tracks come from localities around Luoping in Yunnan, a well known site of exceptional fossil preservation that has yielded thousands of exquisite fossils of sea creatures, and occasional plants and small terrestrial animals blown in from the nearby islands.

Professor Michael Benton from the University of Bristol, one of the co-authors of the research, said: "When I first saw the site, I couldn't believe the amazing quality of the fossils. It's quite unusual to find skeletons of marine reptiles such as the nothosaurs so close to evidence of their tracks."

Luoping and other sites in South China are shedding light on the recovery of life from the devastating Permo-Triassic mass extinction event which wiped out more than 90 per cent of all species on Earth. Nothosaurs and other marine reptiles were new members of the recovering ecosystems.

Co-author Professor Shixue Hu, also from Chengdu Center of China Geological Survey, said: "Here we see a detailed snapshot of how life was within 8 million years of the mass extinction. It took all that time for the Earth to settle down from the cataclysm, and the arrival of these large, complex marine predators shows us the ecosystems had finally rebuilt themselves, and life could be said to have recovered from the crisis."


'/>"/>

Contact: Hannah Johnson
44-117-928-8896
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Newly identified B-cell selection process adds to understanding of antibody diversity
2. Newly identified brain cancer mutation will aid drug development
3. Newly found dinosaur is long-nosed cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex
4. Newly discovered molecule may offer hope for immune disorders and runaway inflammation
5. Newly identified small-RNA pathway defends genome against the enemy within
6. Newly discovered catalyst could lead to the low-cost production of clean methanol
7. Newly discovered marsupial the victim of fatal attraction
8. Newly discovered signaling pathway could impact a variety of autoinflammatory diseases
9. Newly discovered human peptide may become a new treatment for diabetes
10. Attention Vical Incorporated Investors: Vical Misled Investors According to a Newly Filed Class Action
11. Newly identified proteins make promising targets for blocking graft-vs.-host disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/15/2016)... -- A new partnership announced today will help life ... a fraction of the time it takes today, ... insurance policies to consumers without requiring inconvenient and ... rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and HIV) and higi,s ... pulse, BMI, and activity data) available at local ...
(Date:3/31/2016)...   LegacyXChange, Inc. ... LegacyXChange is excited to release its first ... be launched online site for trading 100% guaranteed authentic ... also provide potential shareholders a sense of the value ... industry that is notorious for fraud. The video is ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... India , March 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... market research report "Electronic Sensors Market for Consumer ... Proximity, & Others), Application (Communication & IT, ... Geography - Global Forecast to 2022", published ... industry is expected to reach USD 26.76 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... 27, 2016  Global demand for enzymes is ... 2020 to $7.2 billion.  This market includes enzymes ... products, biofuel production, animal feed, and other markets) ... biocatalysts). Food and beverages will remain the largest ... consumption of products containing enzymes in developing regions.  ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Parallel 6 , ... announced today the Clinical Reach Virtual Patient Encounter CONSULT module which enables ... the physician and clinical trial team. , Using the CONSULT module, patients and physicians ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... 27, 2016   Ginkgo Bioworks , a leading ... was today awarded as one of the World ... world,s most innovative companies. Ginkgo Bioworks is engineering ... real world in the nutrition, health and consumer ... with customers including Fortune 500 companies to design ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... NC (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Researchers ... the most commonly-identified miRNAs in people with peritoneal or pleural mesothelioma. Their findings are ... to read it now. , Diagnostic biomarkers are signposts in the blood, lung ...
Breaking Biology Technology: