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Fossil shows that ancient reptile gave live birth

Archosauromorph ditched eggs, unlike bird, crocodile cousins

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12:30pm, February 14, 2017
Dinocephalosaurus

PREHISTORIC PREGNANCY  With a long-necked body not suited to walking, an ancient marine reptile Dinocephalosaurus (illustrated) may have evolved to give live birth in the ocean rather than lay eggs on land, a new study suggests.

A prehistoric marine reptile may have given birth to its young alive.

A fossil from South China may be the first evidence of live birth in the animal group Archosauromorpha, scientists report February 14 in Nature Communications. Today Archosauromorpha is represented by birds and crocodiles — which both lay eggs.

Whether this fossil really is the first evidence of live birth in Archosauromorpha depends on how another group of semiaquatic animals is classified, says Michael Caldwell, a vertebrate paleontologist with the University of Alberta in Canada. Placement of Choristodera, a now-extinct group that included a freshwater reptile that gave live birth, remains murky, with some researchers putting them with Archosauromorpha and others with a group that includes snakes and lizards.

 “Our discovery

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