Evolution Intelligent Design

Huge lizard found in ichthyosaur’s stomach establishes that the latter was a big time predator

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Ichthyosaur's last meal is evidence of triassic megapredation
The stomach of this 240-million year old fossil ichthyosaur contains the mid-section of another marine reptile that in life would have been only slight smaller. It’s the first direct evidence of ancient megapredation — one large animal eating another. Credit: Da-Yong Jiang, et al, iScience

At 240 million years ago. Blunt teeth were no deterrent, as it turns out:

When paleontologists digging in a quarry in southwestern China uncovered the nearly complete skeleton of a giant, dolphin-like marine reptile known as an ichthyosaur, they didn’t expect to find another fossil in its stomach. This second skeleton belonged to a four-meter-long, lizard-like aquatic reptile known as a thalattosaur and is one of the longest fossils ever found in the stomach of a prehistoric marine reptile. While the researchers can’t say for sure whether the thalattosaur was scavenged or preyed upon, their work could be the oldest direct evidence that Triassic marine reptiles like ichthyosaurs—previously thought to be cephalopod feeders—were apex megapredators …

“If you look across all the similar marine reptiles that lived in the age of dinosaurs, we’ve actually never found something articulated like this in the stomach,” says co-author Ryosuke Motani, a professor of paleobiology at the University of California, Davis. “Our ichthyosaur’s stomach contents weren’t etched by stomach acid, so it must have died quite soon after ingesting this food item. At first, we just didn’t believe it, but after spending several years visiting the dig site and looking at the same specimens, we finally were able to swallow what we were seeing.”

Because stomach contents are rarely found in marine fossils, researchers rely on tooth and jaw shapes to learn what prehistoric species may have eaten. While prehistoric apex predators are typically thought to have large teeth with sharp cutting edges, some modern predatory species like crocodiles use blunt teeth to consume large prey items with grasping force instead of cutting. Ichthyosaurs share these blunter teeth, but with no direct evidence of large prey consumption in these prehistoric marine reptiles, scientists believed that they fed on small prey like cephalopods.

Cell Press, “Massive, well-preserved reptile found in the belly of a prehistoric marine carnivore” at Phys.org

Paper. (open access)

Of course, for the ichthyosaur, unlike the paleontologist, eating wasn’t a theory. The more we learn, the more many of our assumptions will be challenged.

11 Replies to “Huge lizard found in ichthyosaur’s stomach establishes that the latter was a big time predator

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Pythons and pelicans do it. Why is it unexpected?

  2. 2
    chuckdarwin says:

    Maybe the Intelligent Designer just put the thalattosaur bones into the ichthyosaur’s stomach to throw the evolutionists off track, you know, kind of like how Satan planted the dinosaur bones…

    This is like that constant stream of articles in Evolution News that announce predictable and prosaic findings by paleontologists that the ID people try to whip up into something damning to evolution, like “oh wow, the paleontologists were surprised” that reptiles preyed on each other… Big ones getting swallowed by bigger ones…. Megapredation, who woulda’ thought…

  3. 3
    Truthfreedom says:

    Chuckdarwin,
    How can you know your reasoning processes related to “evolution” are “right”?

    Perhaps your conclusions are pre-determined by the chemical interactions in your evolved monkey brain so you believe what you believe because of the brain that evolution blessed you with.

    Tjguy dixit. (@15)
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/one-secret-of-darwinian-just-so-stories-is-boundless-imagination/#comments

  4. 4
    Querius says:

    Polistra,

    Pythons and pelicans do it. Why is it unexpected?

    Maybe it’s just because most other discoveries in paleontology are unexpected, such as the DNA recovered from immature Hadrosaurs that miraculously was preserved in cartilage for over 90 million years! (Correction, 75 million years)
    https://www.technologynetworks.com/genomics/news/baby-duck-billed-dinosaur-dna-found-preserved-331523

    Isn’t cartilage amazing?

    -Q

  5. 5
    Fasteddious says:

    Killer whales have rounded peg-like teeth too.

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    Regarding DNA, I just ran across this:
    https://www.nature.com/news/dna-has-a-521-year-half-life-1.11555

    While conditions can be more or less favorable to preserving DNA, it’s always bothered me that background radiation often seems to be minimized, Dr. Schweitzer’s hemoglobin mitigation notwithstanding.

    -Q

  7. 7
    EDTA says:

    >”we finally were able to swallow what we were seeing.”

    Paleontologist humor. LOL.

  8. 8
    AaronS1978 says:

    @2
    Oh Wow!
    Asinine commentary that immediately proves Darwinian evolution. A genuinely breathless criticism, More about being belittling and really has nothing to do with honest fact it’s just belittling

    Like most atheistic supporters

    Good for you Chucky Pooh

  9. 9
    AaronS1978 says:

    The article is about challenging assumptions and to be honest with you, has nothing to do with ID or evolution directly, it’s just about challenging the assumption that we used to have, ie Challenging assumptions that are presumed under Darwinian evolution

    I think it’s kind of neat that they found that its diet was a lot more diverse then we regionally thought, I loved paleontology, Im fascinated with dinosaurs, so let’s just enjoy the fact that this is an interesting article. Let’s try not to open up with “ID sucks, Darwinianism is awesome, you guys are all freaking stupid” ok

  10. 10
    Querius says:

    No takers on defending the conflict between the discovery of 70+ million-year old Hadrosaur DNA and the 521-year half life of DNA?

    -Q

  11. 11
    Querius says:

    Chuckdarwin?

    Waiting for your devastating rebuttal along with the Facts that reconcile these two data points . . .

    -Q

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