Scientists Discover Fish-Like Marine Reptile Buried in Its Own Blubber “150 Million” Years Ago

A practically finish ichthyosaur skeleton that was learned in 2009 was also covered in a news write-up not long ago. It (and another partial fossil discovered in 1926) ended up described in the April 7 version of the journal PeerJ. Both of those fossils have been found in the Solnhofen limestone of southern Germany in early Tithonian (Late Jurassic) sedimentary levels. What grabbed my attention was the point out of smooth tissue and blubber in a supposedly 150-million-yr-aged fossil.

Now contrary to tender tissue finds in T. rex and hadrosaurs, in which the tissue was delicate and viable, this “soft tissue” has been replaced by the mineral apatite (the same materials our tooth are created of). This implies that, although the outline of the creature and some skeletal stays have been exceptionally preserved, the creature underwent some decomposition as nicely as deformation soon after it died and was buried. The scientists used UV light-weight to analyze the fossil stays and found that there had been two types of fossilized soft tissue. The initial kind, observed alongside the margins of the physique, was interpreted as clean epidermis and dermis, potentially such as connective tissue in the tail. The other style, which surrounds and addresses the specimen, is interpreted as decomposed blubber. Decomposition transformed phosphates in the blubber to the mineral apatite.

Late Jurassic Aegirosaurus sp. (JME-SOS-08369) from Eichstätt-Blumenberg, Germany, via PeerJ.

A great deal of the skeleton of the nearly total ichthyosaur (measured at roughly 5.2 ft. or 161 cm) also showed signals of write-up-mortem compression. The load of sediment which included it and possibly killed it also “squashed” it, particularly the head and abdomen. In addition, the researchers mentioned that the pores and skin impressions preserved in the rock slab showed no symptoms of scales, meaning that at least this genus of ichthyosaur, described as Aegirosaurus, was sleek skinned, comparable to a present day dolphin. In fact I couldn’t assist imagining that this fossil resembled some of the extended-nosed river dolphins (like from the Amazon, Indus, and Ganges) alive these days, even although they are unrelated animals.

So how did the science writers describe such a fossil that is exceptionally preserved but also partially decomposed and compressed? Well the writer of the news report sums it up this way: “During or right after demise, the ichthyosaur landed on its again and facet on the seafloor, and was coated in high-quality sediments. Tiny oxygen and very a great deal of luck preserved it till it was located and excavated in 2009.” But the investigation paper authors explain the fossils’ preservation in the Solnhofen, as “fully articulated skeletons with mineralized delicate tissue preservation are hypothesized to have been buried within just a couple of months, these types of as because of to sediments transported into the basin throughout storm situations . . . with hypersaline, oxygen-bad to anoxic bottom waters, these ailments make the outstanding preservation doable.” Although their description differs in disorders and timeframe from the well-liked information story, they the two have troubles.

This was no mere “storm party,” but we claim this occurred in the course of the flood of Noah’s time.

Now creatures with blubber do not quickly sink except if the sediment load is quite hefty and blankets them absolutely. This was no mere “storm function,” but we claim this occurred throughout the flood of Noah’s time. These two ichthyosaurs have been caught in a significant sediment load very likely produced by submarine mudslides or tons of sediment washed off the continents. They were being promptly buried (not right after months, or else there would have been scavenge marks on the human body or tail fossil), which compressed portions of the human body (of the intact specimen). This compression (and related warmth) induced the blubber to decompose, and the phosphates mineralized the delicate tissue, therefore preserving it as fossilized.

So a flood geology see is a lot much more able to make clear this obtain from a death, burial, and preservation element. It also washes away the hundreds of thousands-of-several years interpretation of this fossil.

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