In another intrigue about ancient predators that once terrorized the seas, researchers have identified a new species of mosasaur, this one with long, skinny crocodile-like jaws
Gavialimimus almaghribensis roamed the seas that covered what is now Morocco 72 to 66 million years ago New discovery shows mosasaur species each found a niche depending on what they ate or their hunting style, Catie Strong, researcher and master’s student at the University of Alberta, Canada, said in a statement.
Gavialimimum has evolved to catch fast-moving prey, said Strong, whose research was guided by vertebrate paleontologist Michael Caldwell, a professor in the Faculty of Science, as well as collaborators from the University of Cincinnati and Flinders University
Each mosasaur species shows adaptations for different prey or predation styles, explained Strong The long, narrow snout and intertwined teeth of Gavialimimum bear similarities to the gharial, a modern relative of crocodiles and alligators
This differentiates him from Prognathodon stadtmani, the recently renowned mosasaur species nicknamed Jaws of Death for its formidable bite
Prognathodon stadtmani probably would not have been in contact with his Moroccan cousin He lived between 92 million and 66 million years ago and ruled an ocean that covered what is today called the North America
The fossilized remains of Gavialimimum almaghribensis included a skull one meter long, just over 3 feet, and a handful of bones, researchers said The remains, discovered in a Moroccan phosphate mine filled with fossils, gave no indication of the animal’s death
Giant sea lizards known as mosasaurs were a product of the Late Cretaceous period and basically ruled the seas as the dinosaur era came to an end They could reach the length of a bus, were « the main predators of the world’s oceans, and would eat anything they could catch, » as the National Park Service describes it.
With so many massive prey competing for food, Strong said, Gavialimimum’s discovery fills a piece of the mega-predator puzzle
« Its long snout shows that this mosasaur was probably adapted to a specific form of predation, or niche partitioning, within this larger ecosystem, » Strong said, noting that each species had some sort of adaptation. physical, whether obvious or more subtle
« Strong said » 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. »
Mosasaurs, crocodiles, species, paleontology
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