One of the enduring mysteries of paleontology, the demise of a highly successful group of dolphin-like marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs that flourished in the seas for more than 150 million years, may finally have been solved.

Scientists on Tuesday attributed their extinction 94 million years ago to the combination of global warming and their own failure to evolve swiftly enough.

The research, the most comprehensive analysis to date of their disappearance, undercut previous notions that ichthyosaurs had been in decline for tens of millions of years and had been out-competed by other predators such as the fearsome ocean-going lizards called mosasaurs that were just arriving on the scene.