Rulers of the Jurassic Sea

Essay by polishpowerCollege, UndergraduateA+, May 2004

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"Rulers of the Jurassic Seas" was an outstanding article that gave insight into the fish-shaped reptiles called the Ophthalmosaurus. Ryosuke Motani who is a very successful paleontologist wrote this article to share the mysteries of piecing together the unordinary evolution of a once dominant species. Montani paints a picture of prehistoric times when the Ophthalomosarus was prevalent and then gives some insight on its original origins. He explains how unusual the species was and how important it is to uncover the true reason for its evolution from a land creature into a deep-sea hunter.

The Ophthalmosaurus was one of more than 60 different species now known to have been apart of a monstrous group of underwater creatures called the ichthyosaurs. Out of the group the Ophthalmosaurus was ranked toward the middle because of its medium size and aggression. The most incredible and misunderstood part about the Ophthalmosaurus was its beginnings, which so happened to be on land.

It's believed that through evolution the water inhabited Ophthalmosaurus was once a land based Chaohusaurus that lived nearly 245 million years ago. Through careful work paleontologists have pieced together the mystery of their peculiar evolution.

Most of the major clues have come from China and Japan where they have discovered numerous fossils. The first major discovery occurred on the northeastern coast of Honshu, which is the main island of Japan. A group of geologists form Hokkaido University excavated two nearly complete skeletons of the fish in 1982. After 15 years of carfully cleaning and chipping the rock away from the fossil it was finally released to the excitement of Montani. The fossil confirmed his beliefs that the Utatsusaurus was simply a lizard with flippers. The only question left was why the vertebra changed so dramatically in size.

The Chachusaurus, which was one...