The fossil of a pregnant ancient reptile, known as ichthyosaur, found by archaeologists working in China shows that the prehistoric reptiles gave birth to their offspring head first.
The fossil of a pregnant ancient sea monster, known as ichthyosaur, found by archaeologists working in China shows that the prehistoric reptiles gave birth to their offspring head first.(1,picture caption)
This is the oldest fossil evidence of a marine reptile embryo ever found, dating back to around 248 million years ago in the Mesozoic era.
Although ichthyosaurs lived in the water, they were air-breathing beings that evolved from earlier land dwelling creatures.
Previous fossils had already indicated that pregnant ichthyosaurs gave birth to live infants rather than laying eggs, but scientists didn’t know which way the babies came out.
A fossil from the Jurassic period of a Stenopterygius ichthyosaur species giving birth showed the baby coming out tail first.
Most kinds of sea dwelling mammals like dolphins and whales give birth tail first so that their babies aren’t suffocated by the water during labor, but early species of whales that evolved from animals on land would give birth head first.
The discovery of the fossil in China also shows that ichthyosaurs were probably giving birth on land, which is contrary to the previous assumption that they gave birth in the water.
What do you think of the discovery indicating that these ancient reptiles gave birth head first and on land?