Some of the largest beasts in the ancient seas had black skin or scales, new research finds.
Ancient leatherback turtles, toothy predators called mosasaurs and dolphinlike reptiles called ichthyosaurs all had black pigmentation, researchers reported this week in the journal Nature. The findings come from an analysis of preserved skin from each of these creatures.
The animals' blackness likely helped them in a variety of ways, said study researcher Johan Lindgren, a mosasaur expert at Lund University in Sweden. "We suggest that they used it not only as camouflage and UV protection, but also to be able to regulate their body temperature," Lindgren told LiveScience.