Researchers have always wondered about what lurks among the ocean's deepest depths. But recently, scientists made a startling discovery: a prehistoric sea monster of enormous size that once inhabited those same waters. Here's what they uncovered.
Nestled among the Augusta Mountains of northwestern Nevada, researchers first made the surprising discovery in 1998. "Only a few vertebrae were sticking out of the rock, but it was clear the animal was large," Scripps College researcher Lars Schmitz recalled. Sure enough, after endless years of research and excavating, the remains in question were actually even bigger than fathomable.
Cymbospondylus youngorum - A newly discovered species of ichthyosaur dating back 246 million years ago, was discovered in the Augusta Mountains of Nevada recently.#archaeohistories pic.twitter.com/czcd505qoo— Archaeo - Histories (@archeohistories) January 3, 2022
With the help of a helicopter, the remarkably large fossils were eventually transported to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for further inspection. There, researchers discovered just how enormous the remains indeed were. "Imagine a sea-dragon-like animal: streamlined body, quite long, with limbs modified to fins, and a long tail," Schmitz revealed.
The ancient dinosaur - named an Ichthyosaur - was roughly 55-feet in length and boasted a skull nearly 6.5-foot-long. Said to have lived approximately 246 million years ago, the Ichthyosaur made for a sea monster like no other. "It was mind-blowing seeing it," confessed Jorge Velez-Juarbe, a curator at the Natural History Museum. Ichthyosaurus researcher Dr. Moon added, "There was nothing else as big as these things around."
But with the remarkable discovery came a new realization: how did the ancient creature grow to become so big? Upon further studying the creature's makeup - more importantly, its teeth - it didn't take long for researchers to detect the Ichthyosaur's former diet. "Count the number and size of the predators at the top, and the number and sizes of their prey and see whether these numbers add up," Dr. Moon assured, explaining that the animal preyed on squid and perhaps even other reptiles.
Nonetheless, there are still many mysteries that remain. "There's still so much we don't know about these early ecosystems," paleontologist Lene Liebe Delsett revealed. With more than 80% of our oceans still unexplored, as reported by Oceana, who knows what other discoveries await us?