Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Science & Space

First evidence of live birth in Mesozoic marine reptiles discovered in China

See also

The first fossil evidence of live birth in Mesozoic marine reptiles was reported in the Feb. 12, 2014, issue of the journal Public Library of Science by a team of scientists from China, Italy, and the United States.

Four stone panels extracted from a fossil quarry near Chaohu Lake in Anhui province in China were assembled into a picture from 248 million years ago of the first known live birth in an ichthyosaur genus called Chaohusaurus.

The fossils show one embryo inside the birth canal, one embryo partially emerging from the birth canal, and one embryo that had exited the birth canal. The animals were born head first.

The researchers conclude from the evidence that Chaohusaurus gave birth to live offspring on land instead of in the water as was previously considered to be the most probable birth environment in ichthyosaurs. Chaohusaurus is considered to be the oldest known ichthyosaur.

The evidence presents a picture of live birth in marine reptiles that is 10 million years older than any other known fossil evidence of live birth.

Ichthyosaurs were in majority very large marine animals. The new fossil evidence suggests that during birth these large marine reptiles came onto land or at least came near land in very shallow water to give birth. The behavior may have been a protective measure to prevent predators from eating the newly born ichthyosaurs.

Advertisement

News

  • Ukraine offensive
    Ukraine's military gears up for a siege on a separatist stronghold in Donetsk
    Video
    Watch Video
  • Israel, Gaza conflict
    Israelis hunker down as rockets from Gaza rain down, tension doesn't seem to ease
    World News
  • Wash. pot shortage
    Marijuana supplies dwindle as the legal sales in Washington state begin
    Headlines
  • America's wealthiest families
    Forbes names the wealthiest families in America as the Waltons reign supreme
    US News
  • Hosts lose 7-1
    The World Cup hosts are embarrassed by Germany 7-1 in the semifinals
    Sports
  • Clippers sale in L.A. court
    Donald Sterling is combative in court as he fights the sale of the L.A. Clippers
    Video
    Watch Video

Related Videos:

  • Bay Area Refinery Walk connects exploding oil trains with the climate crisis
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518216536" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=518216536&autoStart=true"></div>
  • Red deer stag, Wollaton Park, Nottingham, United Kingdom.
    <div class="video-info" data-id="517815960" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=517815960&autoStart=true"></div>
  • Tourists at the entrance to Denisova Cave, Russia.
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518037673" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=518037673&autoStart=true"></div>