One of the ‘Largest Animals Ever’ Used to Swim Off Our Shores and it’s Terrifying
There's no other way to put it: the ocean is terrifying. Sure, surfing seems fun, and white sand beaches attract millions of people every year, but here's a counterpoint: the open water hates you and wants to use all of its creepy creatures hiding beneath its surface to end your life.
Dramatic? Maybe. But have you seen the skull they recently uncovered in the Nevada desert? Dino-scientists (fine, paleontologists) are losing it over the massive ichthyosaur they recently dusted off. Why? Well for one, it's freaking massive. Just the skull alone is over 6 feet long. But even more impressive is exactly how fast it got that big.
Most animals take their sweet time to change. Evolution isn't a matter of hundreds or thousands of years, it usually takes tens of millions of years for dramatic changes to take place. This ichthyosaur heard that and said, "hold my beer."
While fossil evidence supports the idea that it took giant animals like whales nearly 50 million years to evolve to their current size, this new ichthyosaur seems to only have taken three million. While that's basically an eternity when viewed from our perspective, it's massively quick when compared to the other giants that have lived on our planet.
Scientists currently suspect that huge amounts of their favorite meal, creatures called ammonoids, led to their quick growth, but either way, I don't think I'm alone when I say I'm glad I don't have to share an ocean with this giant predator. Instead of the peaceful baleen that most large whales have, the ichthyosaur had actual teeth. No thank you.
The fossil was found in Nevada, meaning that this creature likely inhabited what's known as the panthalassic ocean, which would have been off of the coast of present-day North America.