Mollesaurus

Name: Mollesaurus ‭(‬Molles lizard‭ ‬-‭ ‬After the formation where it was found‭)‬.
Phonetic: Mol-le-sore-us.
Named By: Marta S.‭ ‬Fernández‭ ‬-‭ ‬1999.
Synonyms: Ophthalmosaurus periallus.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Ichthyosauria,‭ ‬Ophthalmosauridae,‭ ‬Ophthalmosaurinae.
Species: M.‭ ‬periallus‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Piscivore,‭ ‬possibly a specialist in squid and belemnites.
Size: Uncertain.
Known locations: Argentina,‭ ‬Patagonia‭ ‬-‭ ‬Los Molles Formation.
Time period: Bajocian of the Jurassic.
Fossil representation: Partial skull and vertebrae.

       Although named in‭ ‬1999,‭ ‬Mollesaurus got declared as a synonym to Ophthalmosaurus in the following year by a review of the Ophthalmosaurus genus by palaeontologists Michael W.‭ ‬Maisch and Andreas T.‭ ‬Matzke in‭ ‬2000.‭ ‬This conclusion remained for about ten years until‭ ‬2010‭ ‬when a further study by Patrick S.‭ ‬Druckenmiller and Erin E.‭ ‬Maxwell identified key differences between the partial skull then identified as O.‭ ‬periallus and other Ophthalmosaurus fossils.‭ ‬Further study,‭ ‬including some involving Maisch,‭ ‬has since reinforced the opinion that Mollesaurus fossil material is indeed representative of a distinct genus.
       Aside from being resurrected as a different genus,‭ ‬Mollesaurus currently stands out from other ophthalmosaurids as possibly being the first member of the group to exist.‭ ‬As such Mollesaurus probably had a similar lifestyle and behaviour to other ophthalmosaurids which saw it diving deep to hunt prey like squid and belmenites that would have been more abundant in the lower depths.‭ ‬Unfortunately it is harder to say for certain it the presence of Mollesaurus in Patagonia hints at a South American origin for the ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaurs since as pelagic‭ (‬open ocean‭) ‬animals,‭ ‬they would have likely had a massive geographical range in order to take full advantage of the available prey which would not have been restricted to just one area of the world.‭



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