World News – GB – A new species of mosasaur discovered in Morocco


Posted: 11:50 PM EDT October 7, 2020 | Updated: 12:03 am EDT, October 8, 2020

Paleontologists have finally identified a ferocious dinosaur with a crocodile-like snout that terrorized inland seas over 60 million years ago

Gavialimimus almaghribensis, a new species of mosasaur, has been cataloged and named by an international team led by Catie Strong, a graduate researcher at the University of Alberta in Canada

Remains of the marine predator have been found in Morocco, where more than a dozen types of mosasaurs have been discovered

Mosasaurs, which breathed air and could reach 15 meters in length, lived in the late Cretaceous, 72 to 66 million years ago

Strong said the discovery helps prove that mosasaurs have become expert niche hunters, allowing them to coexist in a crowded ecosystem

Three-foot-long fossil of Gavialimimus skull, along with other bones, found in phosphate mine in Morocco More than a dozen species of mosasaurs have been identified in the area , which has led paleontologists to believe that each has evolved into a specialized « niche » predator rather than direct competitors with each other

‘Its long snout indicates that this mosasaur was likely adapted to a specific form of predation, or niche partitioning, within this larger ecosystem’

Strong, who conducted his research as part of his undergraduate thesis, theorized Gavialimimus’ alligator mouth «  helping him catch fast moving prey’

The discovery, published in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology, helps explain how so many mega-predators thrived in a limited habitat like an inland sea, Strong said

Each mosasaur species has evolved to become an expert in capturing a specific prey or a different style of predation

An artist’s portrayal of a Gavialimimus almaghribensis, a new species of mosasaur identified by researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada Its interlocking teeth and crocodile-like muzzle are said to have helped it catch fast fish, an asset in a crowded ecosystem like an inland sea

The Globidens simplex, for example, has round, fatty teeth that were well suited for crushing shelled animals

«  Not all of the adaptations of this dozen species are so dramatic, and in some cases there may have been some overlap in prey,  » she said.

It is possible that different mosasaur species are in direct competition for prey but, Strong said, anatomical differences give more credit to the idea of ​​«  niche compartmentalization  »

‘It helps to give another dimension to this diversity and shows how all these animals living at the same time in the same place were able to branch out and go their own way through evolution to be able to coexist in this way’

Fossil remains of G almaghribensis, including a three-foot-long skull, were discovered in a phosphate mine

“Morocco is an incredibly good place to find fossils, especially in those phosphate mines,” Strong said. “These phosphates themselves reflect sediments that would have been deposited in marine environments there is so a lot of mosasaurs there ‘

Strong collaborated with colleagues at the University of Cincinnati and Flinders University in Australia, under the guidance of vertebrate paleontologist Michael Caldwell, director of the Department of Science at the University of Alberta

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Mosasaurs, species, crocodiles, paleontology

News from the world – GB – Discovery of new species of mosasaurs in Morocco



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