NEW DELHI, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- The fossil of a monster marine reptile that roamed in the Jurassic era preying on other marine life has been finally dug out in India's western Gujarat state after long and intense efforts by fossil hunters.
Paleontologists have excavated a rarely seen and "near-complete" fossilized skeleton of an ichthyosaur, a fish-like marine reptile, that is more than five meters long.
Not only is it the most intact ichthyosaur fossil ever found in India, but also the oldest so far, marking the first specimen from the Jurassic era 100 to 150 million years ago, lead scientist Guntupalli V.R. Prasad said.
Prasad said ichthyosaurs lived between 250 and 900 million years ago, and the finding was surprising as well as exciting, during an interview with US-based PLOS Research News.
Based on the patterns of the fossil's teeth, the creature was a "top-tier predator that fed on hard and abrasive food material" like mollusks, fish and other marine reptiles.
Discovered in 2016, the fossil was encased in dense, sedimentary rock, according to National Geographic. As the temperature of the region reached nearly 37.8 degrees Celsius, it posed a tough challenge for excavators, taking them 1,500 hours to dig the rare fossil out.