A new marine reptile, named as Kyhytysuka sachicarum, has been discovered by a team of international researchers.
A metre-long skull specimen of the reptile was discovered. It was found in central Colombian region and belongs to last surviving ichthyosaurs.
Kyhytysuka translates to ‘the one that cuts with something sharp’ in the indigenous language of ancient Muisca culture.
The ancestor reptile of this species had small and sharp teeth for feeding on small prey such as fishes. The new reptile modified its teeth to prey on big fishes and other marine reptiles.
The reptile evolved during the transition time of Early Cretaceous epoch. Global extinction event had changed marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
During this period, sea levels were rising; earth was starting to warm and the supercontinent Pangaea was splitting into northern and southern landmasses.
Scientists are using the fossils to study the evolution of marine organisms during the transition time.
The fossils also indicate that Colombia was a biodiversity hotspot during this period in history.