Scientists have recently discovered a new species of prehistoric sea creature, which could provide valuable insights into the evolution of sea monsters millions of years ago. The new find, which has been dubbed Aetosaurus orus, is an ichthyosaur that lived during the Mesozoic era, about 190 million years ago.
Ichthyosaurs are a kind of serpent-like quadrupedal marine reptile that populated the coastal waters of the oceans for much of the Mesozoic era. This particular species, however, was an oddball — it was much bigger than its kin, reaching lengths of up to eight meters.
One of the most interesting aspects of Aetosaurus orus is that its evolutionary cousin was also a newly discovered species – a plesiosaur. This means that the two creatures shared a common ancestor, likely sometime during the Middle Triassic period, about 240 million years ago.
Most creatures that lived in the oceans during the Mesozoic era were larger and faster than their predecessors, and the same is true of Aetosaurus orus and its newfound plypliosaur relative. However, the former was adapted to serve as an ambush predator, thanks to its large teeth and stout body, whereas the latter was better suited for open-water swimming and long-distance cruising.
The discovery of these two species provides valuable insight into the evolution of sea monsters millions of years ago, and could explain how the two different types of predators evolved from a common ancestor. Further analysis of Aetosaurus orus could also help to answer other questions about the modern ocean environment, how aquatic predators interact and what kind of ecological roles they typically fulfill in a marine ecosystem.
Overall, the discovery of this new species is an exciting development, and could potentially teach us a lot about the distant past.