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A large mosasaur with tooth like a killer whale dominated the oceans round Morocco in the direction of the top of the Cretaceous interval, a brand new examine finds.
The extinct predator, named Thalassotitan atrox, grew to about 30 to 33 toes (9 to 10 meters) lengthy and certain consumed another marine reptiles it got here throughout, together with fellow mosasaurs. The identify Thalassotitan comes from the Greek phrases “thalassa” and “titan,” that means “sea giant,” and the species identify atrox interprets to “cruel” or “merciless,” in accordance with the examine.
Researchers found fossilized skulls, jaws and different stays that they used to establish T. atrox close to Casablanca in western Morocco, an space that was underwater through the Cretaceous interval.
The researchers discovered that the tooth of T. atrox have been typically chipped, damaged or worn down, suggesting the species broken them whereas violently attacking and biting by way of the bones of prey.
Mosasaurs went extinct concurrently the dinosaurs after an enormous asteroid struck Earth 66 million years in the past. The new finds add to a fossil file in Morocco that reveals the ocean there was teeming with wealthy and numerous life earlier than the asteroid hit.
“They tell us how life was rich and diversified just before the end of the ‘dinosaur era’, where animals had to specialise to have a place in their ecosystems,” co-author Nour-Eddine Jalil, a set supervisor on the Palaeontology Research Center on the Museum of Natural History in Paris, mentioned in a assertion. “Thalassotitan completes the picture by taking on the role of the megapredator at the top of the food chain.”
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Mosasaurs have been a various group of marine reptiles distantly associated to trendy lizards and snakes. They dominated the world’s oceans for hundreds of thousands of years when dinosaurs dominated on land. A 2014 examine printed within the journal Proceedings of the Zoological Institute RAS estimated that one mosasaur specimen from a special species in Russia referred to as Mosasaurus hoffmanni was about 56 toes (17 meters) lengthy.
The new species, due to this fact, wasn’t the largest mosasaur, nevertheless it was nonetheless a high predator and crammed an analogous position in its ecosystem to killer whales (Orcinus orca) and nice white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) right now, in accordance with the assertion.
Most mosasaurs had lengthy jaws and slender tooth, however T. atrox developed a shorter, wider muzzle that elevated its chew pressure and quick, conical killer whale-like tooth that might endure the elevated forces when biting giant prey, in accordance with the examine.
The researchers discovered fossilized bones of no less than three different mosasaurs in the identical rock beds as T. atrox that confirmed indicators of acid harm, suggesting these mosasaurs have been digested within the abdomen of T. atrox and spat out once more.
The examine was printed Online Aug. 24 within the journal Cretaceous Research.
Originally printed on Live Science.