Scientists discover new species

A fossil saved from a mule track has revolutionised scientist's understanding of an ancient dolphin-like marine reptile. The international team of scientists say the discovery will reveal exactly how the species became extinct.

Unique fossil found

The findings produced by researchers from museums and universities in Belgium and the UK, such as Southampton University, contradict previous theories that the reptiles were the last survivors from the Cretaceous period (the time span between 145 and 66 million years ago).

Research has shown that the ichthyosaurs appeared during the Triassic and Jurassic period and survived into the Cretaceous which suggests the end of the Jurassic extinction did not occur for the species.

The fact they survived the Jurassic period makes their fossil record unique from other marine reptile groups.

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Fossils reveal ancient species

Scientists in Southampton have revealed that the discovery of a new fossil could help us to better understand an ancient dolphin-like marine reptile.

The Southampton team are part of an international group who say the discovery in Iraq could provide more information about how the ichthyosaurs evolved and became extinct.