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Pregnant Ichthyosaur Fossil
University of Alberta scientists have named a new species of ancient
marine reptile, fondly called the Ping Pong Ichthyosaur for the spot the
prehistoric creature called home for the last 25 years. Embryos found
within the body of a pregnant fossil also mark the most recent record of a
live birth and the physically smallest known ichthyosaur embryos.
Working with Erin Maxwell, an undergraduate student at the U of A at the
time, Caldwell soon learned the bones were from the Lower Cretaceous
period, or about 100 million years old. This finding was significant since
it bridged a huge gap--the previous set of pregnant ichthyosaur specimens
was dated 80 millions earlier. The Loon Lake collection was also the most
northern record of ichthyosaur remains from Canada.