Paleontologists Find Fossils of a Pregnant, 245-Million-Year-Old Sea Reptile

It’s the first time live birth has been observed in an archosauromorph, the reptilian parent group from which dinosaurs, birds, and crocodilians derive.

By Becky Ferreira | MOTHERBOARD

Some 245 million years ago, at the dawn of the Triassic period, a pregnant aquatic reptile from the genus Dinocephalosaurus perished in the seas covering what is now the Luoping region of southwest China. But as luck would have it, the expectant mother was fossilized in the seabed—along with her developing embryo.

This extraordinary specimen presents the first evidence of live birth observed in an archosauromorph, which is the reptilian parent group from which dinosaurs, birds, crocodilians, and marine animals like Dinocephalosaurus all derived. The find is described in new research published Tuesday in Nature Communications, led by Hefei University of Technology paleontologist Jun Liu.

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