Surfing The Wierd

Saturday, November 7, 2009

TRex of Ocean Found in Arctic February 27, 2008Dubbed the "the Monster," this newly identified fossil predator is one of the largest marine reptiles ever found, scientists announced today. (Read full story.) The 50-foot-long (15-meter-long) "sea monster" was excavated last summer on Norway's Arctic island of Spitsbergen (see map). The Monster likely represents the biggest species of pliosaur known to science, said Jxrn Hurum, of the Natural History Museum in Oslo, Norway, who led the dig teamand who called the reptile "the T. rex of the ocean." Pliosaurs were the top marine predators during the Jurassic period (200 to 145 million years ago), but their fossils are rarely found. The Monster is portrayed here leaping after a pterosaur, but the creature's main prey was likely other large sea reptiles. (See 3-D animations of other sea monsters in our interactive time line.) ................................................................. A newly excavated pliosaur from the Arctic island of Spitsbergen is illustrated in the company of a blue whale, a killer whale, and a human. The prehistoric "sea monster" is one of the largest marine reptiles known to science. Its head alone measures some ten feet (three meters) long, the Norwegian-led team that found the fossil skeleton announced on February 27, 2008. While blue whales are considered the planet's biggest ever animals, pliosaurs probably had the biggest bite, according to sea-reptile fossil expert Richard Forrest. "Inside their enormous skulls they had huge areas of muscle available for biting force," said Forrest, who is affiliated with the New Walk Museum in Leicester, England. "One of these animals would have been big and strong enough to pick up a small car and bite it in half." ........................................................................ A 150-million-year-old pliosaur with teeth the size of cucumbers, was excavated by fossil hunters last year among the desolate mountains of Spitsbergen, part of Norway's Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The recently discovered fossil site is described as a graveyard of dinosaur-era marine reptiles, including dolphin-shaped ichthyosaurs and previously unknown forms of long-necked plesiosaurs. (See related pictures: "'Sea Monster' Graveyard Found in the Arctic".) Some 40 skeletons have been located at the site as of February 27, 2008, when the new "sea monster" was announced. A second pliosaur fossil was also located in the barren landscape in the summer of 2007. The team plans to excavate the newfound skeleton during a return visit later in 2008. ............................................................................................ The remains of a massive pliosaur excavated on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen include sections of dinner-plate-size vertebrae and an almost complete forelimb "paddle." "Although we didn't get the entire skeleton, we found many of the most important parts," said team member Patrick Druckenmiller. "Amazingly, the paddle alone is nearly ten feet [three meters] long." The ocean predator likely used its giant flippers to launch sudden, ferocious attacks on other marine reptiles, according to fossil expert Richard Forrest. "We don't think they were particularly good at cruising but were very good at accelerating, so they'd lurk in the depths and shoot up to catch things," he said on February 26, 2008, the day before these images were released.

—Illustration by Tor Sponga/BT (top); Drawing by Espen M. Knutsen/ Natural History Museum/University of Oslo/Norway
.................................................. Fossil hunters removed a hundred tons of rock by hand last summer to extract the skeleton of a huge pliosaur in Norway's Svalbard archipelago. Revealed to the public on February 27, 2008, the "sea monster" is one of the biggest marine reptiles ever found. It was discovered at the site of 40 other large Jurassic-era sea creatures some 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) from the North Pole. The reptiles swam in temperate seas and sank to the ocean floor after they died, where their bodies were preserved in soft mud, according to expedition leader Hurum. The pliosaur's fossil bones have been softened by freezing Arctic conditions, Hurum noted. "They are almost like gravelthey have been frozen and thawed many, many times." So far, 6.5 gallons (25 liters) of glue have been used to stabilize the skeleton, he said
—Photograph by Natural History Museum/University o >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> A 33-foot-long (10-meter-long) marine reptile dubbed the Monster leaps from the water to snare a smaller reptile known as a plesiosaur in this artist's interpretation. The Monster is a member of a group of dino-era sea creatures called pliosaurs. Its fossil was among 28 specimens of predatory sea reptiles recently found on the Arctic island of Spitsbergen in Norway's Svalbard archipelago. The 150-million-year-old graveyard was unearthed by a team from the University of Oslo's Natural History Museum, along with a paleontologist from Montana State University in Bozeman. The remains of the Monster may represent the largest complete pliosaur ever found. So far the team has uncovered a skull measuring 6.9 feet (2.1 meters) in length, dinner plate-size neck vertebrae, and portions of the lower jaw with huge teeth that the scientists say are as thick as cucumbers. Cliffs rise along the Inner Isfjorden, the second longest fjord in the Svalbard archipelago. The Norwegian islands lie about 600 miles (966 kilometers) from the North Pole. Experts say the recent discovery of a huge "sea monster" graveyard ranks the Arctic islandalready noted for its large polar bear populationas one of the best marine reptile fossil sites in the world. An outline of small rocks traces the final resting place of the fossil known as the Monster on the island of Spitsbergen. The labels show where different parts of the massive pliosaur have been revealed in the shale. Pliosaurs were the top marine predators of the Jurassic (200 million to 145 million years ago), a time when the oceans were teeming with large, meat-eating reptiles, says Jxrn Hurum of the Natural History Museum in Oslo. It was the T. rex of the ocean, Hurum added. It would have eaten everything. And the reptile's powerful jaws, scientists say, would have been capable of lifting a car and biting it in half.
Photograph courtesy Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Norway
The skull of an ichthyosaur, a marine reptile that resembles a dolphin, is prepared for study after it was found in the Arctic island chain of Svalbard. Ichthyosaurs, likely once a common prey for larger sea beasts such as pliosaurs, used an upright tail fin to propel themselves through the water. Most ichthyosaurs averaged 13 to 20 feet (4 to 6 meters) in length, but some reached 75 feet (23 meters). The Monster hunts a pair of ichthyosaurs in this artist's interpretation. The bed of fossils where the large pliosaur has been discovered also yielded six ichthyosaurs, including specimens that may be species new to science



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