New evidence suggests that the largest animal to ever live may have been a Triassic ichthyosaur super-predator, which roamed the seas between 200 and 250 million years ago. The ichthyosaur was a sea-dwelling reptile that was reportedly found during both the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The current largest animal known is the blue whale.
20 years ago, when the late Elizabeth Nicholls, who worked with the Royal Tyrell Museum in Alberta, Canada at the time, and a colleague of hers discovered what was believed to be massive fossilized ichthyosaur bones.
Scientists believe that ichthyosaur had a two-meter-long skull and an estimated length of 21 meters, making it a super-predator for the time. The jaw-bone was measured to be around 96 centimetres long, the researchers said that based on the size of the bone, the super-predator could have been between 20 to 25 meters, larger than the previous specimen found in 2004.
The researchers further analysed and looked at a bone found around 50 kilometers along the coast from Lilstock. These bones were discovered between the 1840s and 1950s, and were believed to be limbs at that time. It was later proved that these bones belonged to the Triassic super-predator instead.
The bones measured up to 30 meters possibly even 35 meters, which would make it the largest marine predator and the largest marine animal to ever live. This new discovery challenges the previous understanding of the size and evolution of marine animals during the Triassic period.