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A giant mosasaur with its teeth like a killer whale ruled the oceans around Morocco at the end of the age cretaceous periodI found a new study.
An extinct predator, named thalassotitan atrox, It grew to about 30 to 33 feet (9 to 10 m) and likely fed on any other marine reptiles it came across, including its mate. mosasaurs. The name Thalassotitan It comes from the Greek words “thalassa” and “titan”, which means “giant of the sea”, and the species name Atrox Translates to “cruel” or “merciless,” according to the study.
Researchers have discovered fossilized skulls, jaws and other remains that they used to identify them T. Atrox Near Casablanca in western Morocco, an area that was submerged during the Cretaceous period.
The researchers found that the teeth of T. Atrox They were often chipped, cracked, or worn out, indicating that the species damaged them while aggressively attacking and biting through the bones of prey.
Mosasaurs became extinct at the same time as the dinosaurs after colliding with a giant asteroid a land 66 million years ago. The new discoveries add to the fossil record in Morocco that shows the ocean was teeming with rich and diverse life before the asteroid struck.
“They tell us how rich and diverse life was before the end of the ‘Age of the Dinosaurs’, when animals had to specialize to take a place in their ecosystems,” said co-author Noureddine Jalil, director of collections at the Paleontology Research Center at the Museum of Natural History in Paris. , in statement. “Thalassotitan He completes the picture by taking on the role of megaloman at the top of the food chain.”
Mosasaurs were a diverse group of marine reptiles closely related to modern lizards and snakes. They ruled the world’s oceans for millions of years when dinosaurs dominates the land. A 2014 study published in the journal Proceedings of the Institute of Zoology RAS It is estimated that one mosasaur specimen of a different species in Russia is called Mosasaurus hoffmanni It was about 56 feet (17 meters) tall.
Therefore, the new species was not the largest mosasaur, but it was still a major predator and played a similar role in its ecosystem. killer whales (Orcinus orca) And the great white sharks (Carcharodon carchariasToday, according to the statement.
Most mosasaurs had a long jaw and slender teeth, but T. Atrox It developed a shorter, broader muzzle that increased its bite force and short, conical killer whale-like teeth that can withstand increased forces when biting large prey, according to the study.
Researchers have found fossilized bones of at least three other mosasaurs in the same stony rock T. Atrox which showed signs of acid damage, indicating that these mosasaurs had been digested in their stomachs T. Atrox and spat again.
The study was published online August 24 in the journal chalk search.
Originally published on Live Science.
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