Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Forget Jurassic Park and those cuddly velociraptors. For a real prehistoric nightmare, check out what an international team of scientists unearthed last year in the far north Atlantic island group of Svalbard.
With jaws large to munch a modern killer whale and flippers as wide as airplane wings, this ancient marine predator would have stretched 15 meters from snout to stern — as long as a one of those mondo trailers hauled behind a semi.
So don’t blame the scientists for nicknaming the beast “The Monster.”
“After months of preparing and conserving the specimen at the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo, researchers confirmed their earlier suspicions: the 150-million-year-old Jurassic marine reptile is perhaps the largest ever found,” according to the University of Alaska Museum of the North.
“This is one of the largest and relatively complete pliosaurus specimens ever found,” says earth sciences curator Patrick Druckenmiller, who spent several weeks last summer working with a Norwegian research team on the excavation.
“Its discovery in Svalbard also demonstrates that these gigantic animals inhabited the northern seas during the age of dinosaurs.”
A pliosaurus was a marine reptile, one of the pliosaurus, that lived during the age of the dinosaurs, between 205 million to about 65 million years ago.