2013 Archives

Mosasaur Cannibalism?
Fossilized 'Sea Monster' Found In Angola With Three Others In Its Belly

Excerpt

The following is from the Nov. 4, 2013, edition of The Huffington Post. SMU paleontologists Louis Jacobs and Michael Polcyn provided expertise for this story.

November 5, 2013

By Stephanie Pappas

DENVER — The mosasaur, a fearsome marine reptile that stalked the Cretaceous seas, scavenged its own kin, a new fossil find reveals.

mosasaurA fossilized mosasaur found in Angola contains the partial remains of three other mosasaurs in its stomach, researchers reported here Tuesday (Oct. 29) at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

"These are three different species of mosasaur inside the belly of a fourth species of mosasaur," said study researcher Louis Jacobs, a vertebrate paleontologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

The find isn't the first example of mosasaurs digesting mosasaurs, but it illuminates an ancient ecosystem surprisingly similar to ones seen in parts of the ocean today.

Mosasaurs were at the top of the marine food chain from about 98 million years ago to the end of the Cretaceous 66 million years ago, when they went extinct. As is the case for modern whales, the first mosasaur ancestors were land-dwellers. They looked not unlike today's monitor lizards, said study researcher Michael Polcyn, also a vertebrate paleontologist at Southern Methodist University. 

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