Ichthyosaur Birth Preserved in Fossil

Posted on February 13, 2014

ichthyosaur birth preserved in fossil


The birth of an ichthyosaur is preserved in a 248-million-year old fossil. The ichthyosaur was an ancient marine reptile that lived during the Mesozoic era. The fossil was recovered in China and appears to show a live birth. There are three embryos in the fossil. One of the embryos (colored in yellow below) is exiting the pelvis, with half its body still inside its mother.

colored image of ichthyosaur live birth preserved in fossil


The research was published here in PLoS One by Ryosuke Motani from the University of California, Davis, and colleagues.

Dr. Motani says in a statement, "The study reports the oldest vertebrate fossil to capture the 'moment' of live-birth, with a baby emerging from the pelvis of its mother. The 248-million-year old fossil of an ichthyosaur suggests that live-bearing evolved on land and not in the sea."

Photos: Ryosuke Motani, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088640