New, Really Big Sea-dwelling Dinosaur

The small fragments of bone are spread out on a workbench in tiny pieces that could fit into a matchbox, betraying the size of their owner: a fearsome sea predator considered the Tyrannosaurus Rex of the oceans.

… a pliosaur, a reptile that swam the oceans 150 million years ago and was so big it could swallow a grown man in a single gulp. [note: there were no people living at that time -gtl]

Bits of pliosaur fossils have previously been found in Germany, Britain and Argentina, but never have as many been found as this summer in the Svalbard archipelago off northern Norway in the Arctic.

“It looks like the most complete one. We won’t know for sure until we excavate it but it looks very promising,” says Joern Hurum who led the Norwegian research team to the Svalbard, only a little more than 1,000 km from the North Pole.

The palaeontologists came upon the ‘treasure trove’ of fossils in August. Only the skull and a few vertebrae of the pliosaur were sticking out of the Arctic rocks in what was once the seabed, and further excavations will be carried out in August 2007 to find and, hopefully, recover the rest of the body.

… It measured about 10 metres in length, weighed 10 to 15 tonnes and – perhaps most importantly – had a hundred teeth, some as big as a cucumber.

“It’s like a sea lion with a crocodile skull in the front but it’s the size of a bus,” Hurum says. “It was the top sea predator at that time so really it ate anything it liked,” he said, comparing his “baby” to a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the king of dinosaurs which roamed the earth at the same time and both of which disappeared 65 million years ago.

…the reptile was a land animal before becoming a sea creature.

[source]

Comments

  1. #1 Peter McGrath
    December 4, 2007

    Pic of pliosaur skeleton here:

    http://runswickbay.blogspot.com/2007/11/pliosaur-lower-jurassic-shale.html

    It’s from lower jurassic shale cliffs about two miles from my house, and it’s one the 10 metre ones. The cliffs were extensively quarried to manufacture the dye fixative alum and about 20 million tonnes of the cliffs were quarried and processed: the shale is full of rusty belemnites and ammonites. Haven’t found a pliosaur of my own. Yet.

  2. #2 mark
    December 4, 2007

    The article’s headline calls it a dinosaur. Pliosaurs (as all plesiosaurs) were not dinosaurs. (/nitpick)

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    December 4, 2007

    Mark: that is not nitpicking. I thought that they were not dinosaurs, but I just blogged what I saw uncritically and I am deeply ashamed. It is worse than someone calling an ape a monkey.

  4. #4 Nathan Myers
    December 5, 2007

    …or Greg.

    Were there any actual marine dinosaurs? Or were the seas too dangerous for half-adapted forms ever to finish the transition?

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    December 5, 2007

    The adaptationist in me says, “Of course there were…. better get looking for them”… there were aquatic/semi-aquatic dinosaurs but not swimming dinosaurs as far as we know. On the other hand, there are only a few hundred known genera (and about twice as many known species?) so we obviously only know about a small percentage of the actual dinosaurs that existed.

    Or, I could say this: Yes, of course there “were” marine dinosaurs, and they still exist. E.g. penguins.

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