“A very long broom for the neck,” a Tricic-aged sea monster with sharp curved teeth and a crocodile-like snout was not a prima donna; Rather, it shares reptiles Pangea Another long and hard-necked animal with coastal waters – one that had a similar appearance, made scientists think that both hunters were the same species.
Now that it is clear that these giraffe-like reptiles are two different species, scientists chose the name of the older of the two Tanniprotehus hydroids, A gesture to Hydra, the long-necked mythical sea monster of Greek antiquity. The younger one named it, Tanystrophus longobardicus.
Researchers said it is rare for two animals with such peculiar necks – which were not only tall but also quite inflexible. but T. Hydroids And T. Longobardicus Somehow a way of coexistence was found when they were alive about 242 million years ago, mainly by hunting various animals so that they would not have to compete for food according to the analysis of their teeth and earlier analysis. T. Hydroids‘Stomach content.
“They evolved to feed on different food sources with different skulls and teeth, but with the same long neck,” the study’s lead researcher, Stephen Speakman, at the Palaeontological Institute of the University of Zurich and the museum in Switzerland An email, a former doctoral student, told Live Science.
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Palaeontologists described earlier Tanystropheus In 1852, but has since struggled to make sense of his strange anatomy. Italian paleontologist Francesco Bassani (1853–1916) thought Tanystropheus There was a flying reptile called a Pterosaur, And that its long hollow neck bones were actually finger bones that supported its wings. This hypothesis was later rejected when scientists realized that the 20-foot-long (6 m) reptile had a 10-foot-long (3 m) neck that was three times the length of its torso.
Small, 4-foot tall (1.2 m) fossils found in specimens Three time period According to the study, the researchers estimated the juvenile of the same species, said study co-researcher Olivier Rippel, ROW Family Curator of Evolutionary Biology at the Field Museum in Chicago.
Curiously, these large and small reptiles had only 13 elongated neck vertebrae, some of which were reinforced with extra bones known as cervical ribs, making their necks relatively stiff. In contrast, Tricic long-necked reptiles Dinocephalosaurus 30 The neck was on the vertebrae side, and Saroprod dinosaurs had vertebrae up to 19 necks.. The extra vertebrae gave these animals more than cervical flexibility Tanystropheus Was, Repel said.
“Why such a neck? It’s always been the question,” Repel said. Some paleontologists thought it survived despite its neck. But genus Tanystropheus, Which includes many other long-necked species such as T. Conspiracy And T. Anticus, Good enough for itself, lived for 14 million years, from about 24 million to 234 million years ago. Soon, paleontologists begin to wonder whether Tanystropheus Not despite being alive, but because of his neck, Repel said.
Given that many of these species had stiff, long necks, the possibility that “this strange anatomy Tanystropheus Rieppel said that was ecologically more versatile and friendly than before, ”Rieppel said.
While it’s anyone’s guess how both are Tanystropheus The species used its neck, an idea that it helped them hunt. Tanystropheus They have short heads at the end of their long necks. “My best guess is that it would make this head quite difficult to see its prey, especially in somewhat turbulent waters,” Speeman said. “This way, TanystropheusBoth, small and large species, were able to watch their prey closely and without being particularly good swimmers. ”
Once that prey was close enough, “it would nap at its prey to catch it,” Speakman said. Or maybe Tanystropheus There was a muscular greed that did not fossilize (soft tissues rarely do), but which helped attract prey, much like how snapping turtle He uses his tongue as a tongue.
Tanystropheus A monitor resembles the lizard, “but with a very long sweep for a neck,” said Speakman, who will be a postdoctoral researcher at London’s Natural History Museum this October. However, many large Tanystropheus Fossils are crushed, so they are difficult to understand. Scientists did not agree if it was to live on land or hire a marine.
So, the researchers of the new study CT scanned Skull of a big Tanystropheus Sample from the Swiss-Italian border, which allowed him to collect 3D digital images of his skull. Scientists also studied the cranial creations of both creatures, and they cut through some of the two small bones. Tanystropheus Individuals, therefore they can see the rings of growth of beings, which are like rings of a tree.
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The researchers focused on the skull because “apart from the shape, there is basically no difference in skeletons between the two species,” Speakman said. “But the skulls are certainly very different, as they are adapted to deal with various food sources.”
Tanystropheus Like a crocodile, he had nostrils above his nostrils, indicating that he lives in water. Big one T. Hydroids There was a possibility of an ambush hunter before he caught them with his long, pointed teeth and waited for animals such as fish and squid to swim. It is still unclear whether large animals lay eggs on the ground like turtles, or were Live in water like other tricycle reptiles, Such as Ichthyosaur.
Analysis of small Tanystropheus’ The growth rings reported that it was fully grown. Taken together with its unique skull anatomy and teeth (small) Tanystropheus Had cone-shaped teeth, while the larger ones had crown-shaped choppers), the researchers concluded that the smaller Tanystropheus Was not a juvenile, but different species T. Longobardicus.
Despite their shared long necks and residence in Tethys C of Pangia, they both Tanystropheus The lifestyle of the species was different. Small T. Longobardicus There is a possibility of eating small shelled animals, such as shrimp, while larger T. Hydroids The fish and squid gulped down.
Neck of Tanystropheus We feel very strange, “Speakman said.” but Tanystropheus It was not a strange evolutionary ‘mistake’ as previously thought. Instead, it was a very successful animal in terms of development because of its neck, and not in spite of it. ”
The study was published online today (August 6) in the journal Current biology.
Originally published on Live Science.