The Triassic Explosion of Marine Reptiles

The Triassic Explosion of Marine Reptiles

The Triassic Explosion of Marine Reptiles

Photo: Psephoderma, modified after Ghedoghedo via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Last week I reported about the abrupt origin of ichthyosaurs in the Early Triassic. However, ichthyosaurs are not the only marine reptiles that appeared abruptly in the Early Triassic. Actually, there are 15 (!) different families of marine reptiles that appear as if out of nowhere in Triassic deposits, while none of them or any putative precursors are known from the preceding Permian period. All aquatic reptiles from the Permian (McMenamin 2019), such as mesosaurs, are clearly unrelated (Laurin & Piñeiro 2017, MacDougall et al. 2018).

Chart redrawn by G. Bechly after Twitchett & Foster 2012 fig. 5.

The new marine reptile groups appearing in the Triassic include, for example, plesiosaurs, placodonts (like the featured Psephoderma), nothosaurs, thalattosaurs, hupehsuchians, nasorostrians, ichthyopterygians, pleurosaurids, and enigmatic forms like Atopodentatus as well as marine turtles and marine crocodiles (thalattosuchians) (Motani 2009). Twitchett & Foster (2012: fig. 5) showed that these 15 families appeared within 9 million years “from obscure origins in the Early Triassic.” It is not like we Darwin critics make this stuff up. We just look at all the evidence and draw our conclusions from conflicting data that Darwinists prefer to ignore or explain away with ever more ad hoc hypotheses.


Günter Bechly

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture

Günter Bechly is a German paleo-entomologist who specializes in the fossil history and systematics of insects (esp. dragonflies), the most diverse group of animals. He served as curator for amber and fossil insects in the department of paleontology at the State Museum of Natural History (SMNS) in Stuttgart, Germany. He is also a Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Dr. Bechly earned his Ph.D. in geosciences from Eberhard-Karls-University in Tübingen, Germany.



aquatic reptilesAtopodentatusDarwin criticsDarwinistsEarly TriassicevolutionFossil Fridayfossil recordhupehsuchiansichthyopterygiansichthyosaursmarine crocodilesmarine reptilesmarine turtlesmesosaursnasorostriansnothosaursPermian periodplacodontsplesiosaurspleurosauridsPsephodermathalattosaursthalattosuchians