The study conducted by two prominent scientists has solved the mystery which has been plaguing the minds of paleontologists for some time.
Dean Lomax, an honorary scientist and a paleontologist at the University of Manchester and Professor Judy Massare from Brockport College came together to research on the differences between Ichthyosaurus and I. Intermedius.
The Research Study
During the study, the two scientists reviewed all the previous research to find out the difference between the two extinct species. The final conclusion of this study is that both the reptiles belong to the same species. The features of Icthyosaurus intermedius are similar to the I.communis. Both scientists have examined varied materials, research done by earlier scientists and the available fossils to examine the differences.
They have also taken into account, the previous assumptions, regarding dissimilarities between the supposed two species and the similarities.
But, after an extensive study, they noticed that both species are actually one and the same and the differences are very minute for them to be considered as different species.
In the early nineteenth century, many Ichthyosaur remains were found in England. But, it was not before 1821 that the first species known as Ichthyosaurus communis was discovered. A group of fossils belonging to the Ichthyosaur is displayed in the London’s Natural History Museum.
In 1822 three more species were known by the differences in their structure and shape of their teeth. Afterward, the two species were noticed as different types of ichthyosaur amongst which one of them was called Intermedius and was similar to I. Communis type of the extinct reptile.
After few years, many reputed scientists, like Sir Richard Owen, examined the fossils of Ichthyosaur which were gathered from Somerset, Dorset Yorkshire and from different regions of England. The studies conducted by these scientists cause confusion in the classification. They were not able to determine whether a particular fossil belonged to I. communis or its brethren, the Intermedius.
Their research has been published in Journal of Systematic Paleontology.