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:12/7/2016)... -- According to a new market research report "Emotion Detection and ... Recognition), Service, Application Area, End User, And Region - Global Forecast to 2021", ... Billion in 2016 to USD 36.07 Billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual ... ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... Valencell , the leading innovator in ... a third consecutive year of triple digit growth for ... with a 360 percent increase in companies who have ... driven by sales of its wrist and ear Benchmark™ ... technology for hearables for fitness and healthcare applications. ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... FRANCISCO and WARSAW, Poland , Nov. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... It is one of the most crucial aspects of recovery so we need to ... of serious health risks, including heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and even ... and friends sleep and find a Christmas present that could help them to manage ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... England , December 8, 2016 ... has expanded its customisable SureSeq™ NGS panel range with the ... allowing fast and cost-effective study of variants in familial hypercholesterolemia ... number variation (CNV) detection on a single small panel and ... hotspot content. This includes all exons for LDLR , ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... This CAST literature review and report looks at ... focus on the economic effects in countries that are major global commodity exporters and ... the resultant risk of low level presence (LLP) puts large volumes of trade worth ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... South Korea , Dec. 8, 2016 ... a $21 billion KRW (US $18.9M) Series A financing. ... Kolon Investment, G.N. Tech Venture and SNU Bio Angel. ... Eutilex to 30.5 billion KRW (US $27.7M) since its ... help Eutilex to bolster the development and commercialization of ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... December 07, 2016 , ... Huffman Engineering, Inc. , ... Wonderware Certified System Integrator Partner. Huffman Engineering is the only Nebraska-based company ... System Integrator Partner certification gives customers confidence that our engineers are fully trained ...
Breaking Biology Technology: