The fossils of an ancient reptile, found about 150 years ago in Germany had been the most difficult conundrum for the experts.
After many years of research, scientists have discovered that the creature known as Tanystropheus lived in water. The reptile with a very long neck is said to have lived around 242 million years ago.
Dr Nick Fraser, a palaeontologist at National Museums Scotland and a co-author of the new research, said: “It probably is the most remarkable [fossil] reptile that there is,”
Over the decades, more specimens of Tanystropheus had been discovered largely at Monte San Giorgio on the Swiss-Italian border, with the largest being six metres long, with a tiny skull, tail and a tremendously long, stiff neck.
Despite the general acceptance that the reptile lived around the coast, the mystery of whether it spent most of its time there or generally lived in the water had never been solved.
The researchers said they had finally solved the mystery of an ancient reptile. Fraser said: “Our group feels that this animal was an aquatic animal most of the time”.
According to the new research, the reptiles had nostrils on top of their snouts, together with an interlocked arrangement of teeth that would have been ideal for trapping fish, serving as evidence that Tanystropheus lived in water.
Dr Fraser said: “I would suspect the smaller one is eating things like small crustaceans and things like that, maybe small fishes, whereas the larger one is eating maybe bigger fishes but also things like squid.