An international team of researchers has discovered a new marine reptile named Kyhytysuka sachicarum.
- Kyhytysuka translates to ‘the one that cuts with something sharp’ in an indigenous language from the region in central Colombia where the fossil was found.
- It has been named so to honour the ancient Muisca culture that existed there for millennia.
- The fossil is a stunningly preserved meter-long skull, is one of the last surviving ichthyosaurs – ancient animals that look eerily like living swordfish.
- They are the members of an extinct group of aquatic reptiles, most of which were very similar to porpoises in appearance and habits.
- They had a very wide geographic distribution, and their fossil remains span almost the entire Mesozoic Era.
- They are first known from the Triassic Period of Asia, where they began as long-bodied, undulating swimmers without many of the specializations seen in later species.
- The species comes from an important transitional time during the Early Cretaceous period when the Earth was coming out of a relatively cool period, had rising sea levels, and the supercontinent Pangea ( A supercontinent that incorporated almost all the landmasses on Earth) was splitting into northern and southern landmasses.