Ancient Reptiles

Ichthyosaurs were large marine reptiles living during the dinosaur age

  • They had salt-secreting glands which removed excess salt

  • These were ancient versions of glands seen on many of today's marine creatures

  • By Phoebe Weston For Mailonline

    Published: 12:53 BST, 18 October 2018 | Updated: 13:07 BST, 18 October 2018

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    Ancient sea monsters that accidentally swallowed sea water when eating their prey had a clever way of getting rid of it, scientists have revealed.

    Ichthyosaurs, which were marine reptiles living during the dinosaur age, had salt-secreting glands on their snouts which removed excess sea water.

    The huge animals, which remained at the top of the food chain for millions of years, developed a streamlined, fish-like form built for speed. 

    They also had odd glands on either side of the skull which were ancient versions of modern glands that many of today's marine animals now have. 

    Ichthyosaurs (pictured), which were marine reptiles living during the dinosaur age, had salt-secreting glands which removed excess salt

    Ichthyosaurs (pictured), which were marine reptiles living during the dinosaur age, had salt-secreting glands which removed excess salt

    These glands were located by researchers led by Judy Massare, a professor emerita at The College at Brockport, State University of New York, writes Live Science. 

    Professor Massare and her colleagues were looking at the skull of an Ichthyosaur, which was a highly successful sea-going reptile that became extinct around 90 million years ago.

    The largest species of ichthyosaur is thought to have grown to over 20 metres (65 ft) in length. 

    The researchers spotted the glands behind the naris, which the creature used for breathing.

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