Fossil Discovery Fills Evolutionary Gap

Fossil remains of amphibious ichthyosaur.
Fossil remains show the first amphibious ichthyosaur found in China by a team led by a UC Davis scientist. (Stefano Broccoli/University of Milan graphic) Its amphibious characteristics include large flippers and flexible wrists, essential for crawling on land.

The first fossil of an amphibious ichthyosaur has been discovered in China by a team led by researchers at the University of California, Davis. The discovery is the first to link the dolphinlike ichthyosaur to its terrestrial ancestors, filling a gap in the fossil record. The fossil is described in a paper published in advance online Nov. 5 in the journal Nature. The fossil represents a missing stage in the evolution of ichthyosaurs, marine reptiles from the Age of Dinosaurs about 250 million years ago. Until now, there were no fossils marking their transition to land. Read more at UC Davis News.