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Marine reptiles evolved more rapidly than thought after Permian


After devastating extinction. From the Guardian:

The discovery of a toothless animal with a short snout and a long tail that roamed the seas around 247 million years ago, suggests early marine reptiles evolved more rapidly than previously thought after the the most devastating mass extinction event the planet has ever experienced, scientists have revealed.

Dubbed Sclerocormus parviceps, a name that nods to its rigid body and small skull, the ichthyosauriform was unearthed by fossil hunters in China.

But its appearance has surprised researchers. Sclerocormus is lacking a host of features seen in closely related marine reptiles: many ichthyosaurs had a long snout, teeth and a tail with big fins – none of which are present in the new find.

“What it is telling us is that very soon after this massive extinction event [at the end of the Permian geologic period] there was a radiation and filling of all these vacant niches, and biodiversity of forms, that took place much, much quicker than we had previously imagined,” said Nick Fraser of the National Museums Scotland, an author of the study.More.

It sounds like a program. What is the program?

See also: Life continues to ignore what evolution experts say

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