A fossil site located in a natural reserve in Nevada, United States, has been under investigation for several decades, yet the enigma behind the large number of ichthyosaurs that perished there roughly 230 million years ago remains unresolved.
A recent analysis purportedly has unraveled this mystery, providing a conclusive justification for the clustering of ichthyosaurs in that area.
The examination was conducted by a consortium of scholars from the University of Utah, Smithsonian Institution, Vanderbilt University, Nevada University in Reno, and Texas University in Austin, all located in the United States. It also involved researchers from the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, Edinburgh in Scotland, and Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Present-day marine behemoths, such as blue whales, routinely partake in mass migrations across the ocean to copulate and give birth in regions where they are less likely to encounter predators. Many of these creatures flock year after year to the same coastal stretches.
Randall Irmis, an expert from the University of Utah and lead author of the recent investigation, and his co-authors have determined that almost 200 million years prior to the evolution of these giant mammals, the colossal marine reptiles known as ichthyosaurs were already undertaking comparable voyages to enable procreation and communal breeding in a relatively secure setting.
Artist’s impression of adult and immature ichthyosaurs of the species Shonisaurus popularis hunting around 230 million years ago, at what is now a paleontological site in a park in Nevada, United States. (Image: Gabriel Ugueto. CC BY-NC-ND)
The study is titled “Grouping behavior in a Triassic marine apex predator”. And it has been published in the academic journal Current Biology. (Fountain: NCYT by Amazings)