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Utatsusaurus is what paleontologists call a "basal" ichthyosaur: the earliest of its kind yet discovered, dating to the early Triassic period, it lacked later ichthyosaur features such as long flippers, a flexible tail, and a dorsal fin. This marine reptile also possessed an unusually flat skull with small teeth, which, combined with its small flippers, implies that it didn't pose much of a threat to the larger fish or marine organisms of its day.

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