EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, December 5, 2023 — The discovery, in a cave west of Cuba, of the skeleton of a marine saurian that lived between 130 and 145 million years ago could be the “paleontological find of the century” in the Island, according to experts cited by state media this Tuesday.
According to preliminary studies underway, it is the fossil of a ichthyosaur reptile three to four meters long, with a certain physical resemblance to today’s dolphins, but with a longer beak and sharp teeth, as described by the Cuban geologist Manuel Iturralde.
The data collected suggests that these animals lived from the Triassic period to the Cretaceous period and were carnivores, added the scientist, quoted by the State newspaper Granma.
The scientists explained that they would be focused on returning to the place to perform photogrammetry
The mystery lies in what type of ichthyosaur the fossil belongs to. It was found embedded in the rock of a cave known as the Surgidero del Río del Novillo, located in the mountains of the Viñales Valley, in the Pinar del Río province. The discovery occurred by chance, after a resident of a farm discovered it in the cave.
Researcher Yasmani Ceballos said that most ichthyosaur genera practically disappeared from the fossil record and “nothing like this had ever been found in Cuba.”
He did cite other discoveries, however, such as the case of a Jurassic dinosaur bone found at the beginning of the 20th century, the remains of a prehistoric turtle, and those of a monkey, also found in a cave in Pinar del Río.
Regarding the next steps that the investigation will follow, the scientists explained that they would be focused on returning to the place – with restriction of public access – to carry out photogrammetry, which will allow extracting a 3D model of the fossil, and taking rock samples where the remains of the reptile appeared.
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