Author: Christine Dell'Amore [National Geographic]
A new species of dinosaur-era sea reptile is rewriting the books on the evolution of so-called sea monsters, a new study claims. (Read “When Monsters Ruled the Deep” from National Geographic magazine.)
The newfound—and potentially controversial—Malawania anachronus was a ten-foot (three-meter) long ichthyosaur, a group of dolphin-like creatures that could grow to 65 feet (20 meters) in length. These fast-swimming predators peaked in diversity during the Jurassic period. (Explore an interactive sea-monster time line.)
Oddly, though, new fossil analyses suggest that M. anachronus roamed the oceans of the early Cretaceous period—66 million years after its closely related cousins were thought to live.
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