Name: Barracudasaurus ‭(‬Barracuda lizard‭)‬.
Phonetic: Bar-rah-coo-da-sore-us.
Named By: Jiang,‭ ‬Hao,‭ ‬Maisch,‭ ‬Matzke‭ & ‬Sun‭ ‬-‭ ‬2005.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Ichthyosauria,‭ ‬Mixosauridae.
Species: B.‭ ‬maotaiensis‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Piscivore.
Size: 1‭ ‬meter long.
Known locations: China,‭ ‬Guizhou Province,‭ ‬Maotai.
Time period: Ladinian of the Triassic.
Fossil representation: 2‭ ‬individuals,‭ ‬including skulls and post cranial remains of the shoulder girdle and front fins.

       Initially described in‭ ‬1965‭ ‬as Mixosaurus maotaiensis,‭ ‬a later second specimen revealed that this was actually a different genus.‭ ‬Standard procedure when erecting a new genus from a previously described species‭ ‬involves using the‭ ‬original specific species name to establish the type species of the new genus,‭ ‬in this case resulting in Barracudasaurus maotaiensis.‭ ‬Barracudasaurus was chosen in reference in its similarity to the Barracuda,‭ ‬predatory fish that swim in today‭’‬s oceans.‭ ‬The specific name means‭ ‘‬from Maotai‭’‬,‭ ‬a town in Guizhou Province where the remains were found.
       The key difference between Barracudasaurus and Mixosaurus is in the teeth,‭ ‬with Barracudasaurus having one row of teeth which become robust and rounded towards the back.‭ ‬This suggests that Barracudasaurus included a larger number of shelled prey animals in its diet.‭ ‬Mixosaurus by contrast seems to have been a more dedicated hunter of softer prey like fish and squid.
       The presence of Barracudasaurus in China has been used to suggest a core origin of the evolution of ichthyosaurs as coming from Asia however this remains difficult to prove.‭ ‬There are many different genera of early ichthyosaurs that display features that suggest they are more advanced while others have different advancements that are still lacking in‭ ‬the‭ ‬advanced features of other ichthyosaurs.‭ ‬One such ichthyosaur is Utatsusaurus,‭ ‬and while it is known from Asia‭ (‬specifically Japan‭)‬ it is also known from the west coast of Canada.‭ ‬Back in the Triassic these areas were at almost opposite ends of a supercontinent called Pangaea which suggests that the early ichthyosaurs were a very wide ranging group,‭ ‬and as such the point of origin of the group remains uncertain.


Random favourites