STL Science Center

STL Science Center

19 March 2013

Plenty of Papers

Ichthyosaurus, as briefly stated before, was certainly a globally distributed and highly successful marine reptile. Evidence has been found in England, of course we remember Mary Anning, but its remains have also been found in Japan, North America (Missouri specifically), the Arctic Circle (see Jorn Hurum's talk from yesterday) and even Australia. The papers contained in the links hit a number of topics in addition to describing species from different areas of the globe. The paper from England, for instance, describes how an entire 520 mm skull was ground down into 520 cross sections of 1 mm each for study. This was done back in the early 20th century, and was somewhat common at the time; unfortunately it was the fate of quite a few fossils though it did sometimes yield interesting results. One paper that, although I am not at school this week (Spring Break and, despite plans to go in today, I hurt my back yesterday 'cause I'm old!) and therefore cannot see if it is available through the school's JSTOR, really caught my eye is A. Smith Woodward's paper on viviparity. For those out of the know, viviparity looks like this in Ichthyosaurs:
Highlighting obviously done after the fact

There are many other fossils that suggest, hint at, or display live birth in Ichthyosaurs, but I like this one best. Not only is there a young pup being born (and sadly dying) in this fossil but there is also another pup's remains in the body cavity of the Ichthyosaur. Some might say that other fossils with young in the body cavity are exhibitions of cannibalism, but a find like this is a strong suggestion against cannibalism and for live birth.

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