The discovery, which happens to be the second largest in India this year, was revealed in PLOS ONE, an open access scientific journal by a group of researchers, who found the fossil in early 2016.
Measuring 5.5 meter in length, the fossil appears like a fusion of a dolphin and lizard. It is believed to belong to the family of Ophthalmosauridae, which most likely lived between 165 and 90 million years ago.
The Ichthyosaur fossil was found among fossils of ammonites and squid-like belemnites, and its tooth wear patterns suggest it fed on animals with hard and bony coverings.
Ichthyosaurs or ‘fish-lizards’ were huge marine reptiles which lived alongside dinosaurs. Many of their fossils have been discovered in North America and Europe. However, in the Southern Hemisphere, they have mostly been limited to South America and Australia.
Dr. Guntupalli Prasad, one of the lead authors of the report says, “This is a remarkable discovery not only because it is the first Jurassic ichthyosaur record from India, but also it throws light on the evolution and diversity of ichthyosaurs in the Indo-Madagascan region of the former Gondwanaland and India’s biological connectivity with other continents in the Jurassic.”
While the study has failed to pinpoint the ichthyosaur’s species, scientists believe that the identification of the specimen may further reveal if there was any marine connection between India and South America in the past. The study provides further understanding of the evolution of marine reptiles in this part of the world.