Skip to comments.BBC: Sea reptile is biggest on record ( measured 15m (50ft) from nose to tail - alligator jaws)
Posted on 02/27/2008 9:26:47 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, BBC News
A fossilised "sea monster" unearthed on an Arctic island is the largest marine reptile known to science, Norwegian scientists have announced.
The 150 million-year-old specimen was found on Spitspergen, in the Arctic island chain of Svalbard, in 2006.
The Jurassic-era leviathan is one of 40 sea reptiles from a fossil "treasure trove" uncovered on the island.
Nicknamed "The Monster", the immense creature would have measured 15m (50ft) from nose to tail.
A large pliosaur was big enough to pick up a small car in its jaws and bite it in half
Richard Forrest, plesiosaur palaeontologist
And during the last field expedition, scientists discovered the remains of another so-called pliosaur which is thought to belong to the same species as The Monster - and may have been just as colossal.
The expedition's director Dr Jorn Hurum, from the University of Oslo Natural History Museum, said the Svalbard specimen is 20% larger than the previous biggest marine reptile - another massive pliosaur from Australia called Kronosaurus.
"We have carried out a search of the literature, so we now know that we have the biggest [pliosaur]. It's not just arm-waving anymore," Dr Hurum told the BBC News website.
"The flipper is 3m long with very few parts missing. On Monday, we assembled all the bones in our basement and we amazed ourselves - we had never seen it together before."
Pliosaurs were a short-necked form of plesiosaur, a group of extinct reptiles that lived in the world's oceans during the age of the dinosaurs.
A pliosaur's body was tear drop-shaped with two sets of powerful flippers which it used to propel itself through the water.
"These animals were awesomely powerful predators," said plesiosaur palaeontologist Richard Forrest.
"A large pliosaur was big enough to pick up a small car in its jaws and bite it in half."
"There are a few isolated bones of huge pliosaurs already known but this is the first find of a significant portion of a whole skeleton of such a giant," said Angela Milner, associate keeper of palaeontology at London's Natural History Museum
"It will undoubtedly add much to our knowledge of these top marine predators. Pliosaurs were reptiles and they were almost certainly not warm-blooded so this discovery is also a good demonstration of plate tectonics and ancient climates.
"One hundred and fifty million years ago, Svalbard was not so near the North Pole, there was no ice cap and the climate was much warmer than it is today."
The Monster was excavated in August 2007 and taken to the Natural History Museum in Oslo. Team members had to remove hundreds of tonnes of rock by hand in high winds, fog, rain, freezing temperatures and with the constant threat of attack by polar bears.
They recovered the animal's snout, some teeth, much of the neck and back, the shoulder girdle and a nearly complete flipper.
Unfortunately, there was a small river running through where the head lay, so much of the skull had been washed away.
A preliminary analysis of the bones suggests this beast belongs to a previously unknown species.
The researchers plan to return to Svalbard later this year to excavate the new pliosaur.
A few skull pieces, broken teeth and vertebrae from this second large specimen are already exposed and plenty more may be waiting to be excavated.
"It's a large one, and has the same bone structure as the previous one we found," said Espen Knutsen, from Oslo's Natural History Museum, who is studying the fossils.
Dr Hurum and his colleagues have now identified a total of 40 marine reptiles from Svalbard. The haul includes many long-necked plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs in addition to the two pliosaurs.
Long-necked plesiosaurs are said to fit descriptions of Scotland's mythical Loch Ness monster. Ichthyosaurs bore a passing resemblance to modern dolphins, but they used an upright tail fin to propel themselves through the water.
Richard Forrest commented: "Here in Svalbard you have 40 specimens just lying around, which is like nothing we know.
"Even in classic fossil exposures such as you have in Dorset [in England], there are cliffs eroding over many years and every so often something pops up. But we haven't had 40 plesiosaurs from Dorset in 200 years."
The fossils were found in a fine-grained sedimentary rock called black shale. When the animals died, they sank to the bottom of a cold, shallow Jurassic sea and were covered over by mud. The oxygen-free, alkaline chemistry of the mud may explain the fossils' remarkable preservation, said Dr Hurum.
The discovery of another large pliosaur was announced in 2002. Known as the "Monster of Aramberri" after the site in north-eastern Mexico where it was dug up, the creature could be just as big as the Svalbard specimen, according to the team that found it.
But palaeontologists told the BBC a much more detailed analysis of these fossils was required before a true picture of its size could be obtained.
I’d hate to have to pay the food bill for one of them. That is one darn big critter.
I’d hate to be the taxidermist for this.
and backm in 2006
more than a year ago..
Remains of Ancient Reptile Are Found [size of a bus] ^
Posted by null and void
On News/Activism ^ 10/05/2006 8:36:14 AM PDT · 20 replies · 867+ views
MyWay via Drudge ^ | Oct 5, 7:59 AM (ET | Not attributed
OSLO, Norway (AP) - Researchers on Thursday announced the discovery of the remains of a short-necked plesiosaur, a prehistoric marine reptile the size of a bus, that they believe is the first complete skeleton ever found. The 150 million year old remains of the 33-foot ocean going predator were found in August on the remote Svalbard Islands of the Arctic, the University of Oslo announced. Fragments of plesiosaur have been found elsewhere, including in England, Russia, and Argentina, but researcher Joern Harald Hurum said the partially fossilized Svalbard find appeared to be the first whole example. We are quite sure...
Monster fossil find in Arctic (First complete pliosaur and ichthyosaur skeletons ever found) ^
Posted by DaveLoneRanger
On News/Activism ^ 10/05/2006 8:03:56 AM PDT · 31 replies · 1,268+ views
BBC ^ | October 5, 2006 | Paul Rincon
Norwegian scientists have discovered a treasure trove of fossils belonging to giant sea reptiles that roamed the seas at the time of the dinosaurs. The 150 million-year-old fossils were uncovered on the Arctic island chain of Svalbard - about halfway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole. The finds belong to two groups of extinct marine reptiles - the plesiosaurs and the ichthyosaurs. One skeleton has been nicknamed The Monster because of its enormous size. These animals were the top predators living in what was then a relatively cool, deep sea. Palaeontologists from the University of Oslos Natural History...
I like the pictures....see just above.....they mention Loch Ness Monster.....
Thanks Ernest and raybbr for the pings. Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
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Scientists say Arctic once was tropical
Associated Press | May 31, 2006 | Seth Borenstein
Posted on 05/31/2006 2:52:30 PM EDT by AntiGuv
...and people don’t believe there were dragons. Oh, there were, alright.
These guys would qualify as dragons....so maybe there was mankind around to actually see them....Greeks seem to have known about dragons....
How original. Thanks, Ernest.
The First Fossil Hunters
by Adrienne Mayor
foreword by Peter Dodson
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