In 2009, researchers uncovered track marks made by Triassic era marine reptiles. Here, students and farmers help excavate the track marks made by paddle-limbed creatures called nothosaurs 245 million years ago.
The tracks could help resolve a long-standing debate: how nothosaurs swam.
The new analysis shows the nothosaurs, like the Lariosaurus shown here, probably used a rowing motion.
Nothosaurs probably ate the lobster and fish that dwelled on the seabed surface, and their paddle-like rowing dredged them up from the soupy sediments.
Ancient sea monster
The researchers ruled out other sea creatures, such ichtyosaurs and other marine reptiles based on size and anatomy.
Nothosaurs could range from 13-feet long to a measly 2-feet long. For comparison, mosasaurs that terrorized the sea during the Cretaceous Era (pictured here) were 20 feet (6 meters) long.