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

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."


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

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