Canadian researchers have found a new species (and genus) of ichthyosaur—a type of fishlike reptile that lived between 250 and 90 million years ago.
They found it under a Ping-Pong table.
Researchers at Edmonton’s University of Alberta made the discovery when they came across a long-forgotten box of fossils in an undergraduate science lab.
Officially named Maiaspondylus lindoei, and dubbed the Ping Pong Ichthyosaur, the intrepid fossil-hunters are being pragmatic about the find:
“It was pretty amazing to realize this valuable discovery had sat under a ping pong table for 25 years,” said Dr. Michael Caldwell, paleontologist at the U of A. “But I suppose that after 100 millions of years in the dirt, it’s all relative.”
The bones belong to two juvenile ichthyosaurs, one slightly larger than the other, and two adults, one of which has two embryos preserved near its vertebrae.
The embryos found with the specimens are by far the newest known—80 million years more recent than the oldest previously known ichthyosaur embryos.
“What was really interesting was that at this point in history the Ichthyosaur goes extinct,” said Caldwell. “So anything from this time is going to be really important.”
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