Paleontologists Find Jurassic Sea Monster Fossil

Posted on October 9, 2006

Paleontologists discovered and ancient Jurassic graveyard full of ancient predatory sea reptiles that look like sea monsters.
The ancient graveyard once lay deep underwater during the Jurassic period, about 200 million to 145 million years ago The site now sits on the island of Spitsbergen, part of the Norwegian-owned Svalbard archipelago, which lies about 600 miles (966 kilometers) from the North Pole.

In total, 28 well-preserved skeletons of marine reptiles that lived some 150 million years ago have been identified at the site, reports a team from the University of Oslo Natural History Museum in Norway. The fossil haul includes the Monster, an estimated 33-foot-long (10-meter-long) pliosaur that has not yet been fully excavated. Pliosaurs were the top marine predators during a time when the oceans were teeming with large, meat-eating reptiles.

"It was the T. rex of the ocean," said Jørn Hurum, co-leader of the research team. "It would have eaten everything." So far the team has found the Monster's skull, which measures 6.9 feet (2.1 meters) in length, along with dinner plate-size neck vertebrae and portions of the lower jaw containing teeth as thick as cucumbers. The fossil specimen may represent the largest complete pliosaur ever found, Hurum says.

"It looks very promising, because we've got 6 meters [20 feet] of vertebrae and the skull and part of a flipper, so it's probably complete," Hurum said
Ah, the Jurassic. What lovely, sweet creatures lived during that time period. Interesting as it is, we think we'll skip the entire Mesozoic Era during any future time travels. But we still like learning about it -- from a safe distance, of course.