An artist’s rendering of the new species of mosasaur identified by researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada. (Credit: University of Alberta/Twitter)
A new species of mosasaur has been discovered by researchers from Canada. The animal species is said to be 60 million years old, with a long snout similar to a crocodile. It used to live in inland seas.
It has been christened as Gavialimimus almaghribensis. Catie Strong, a graduate researcher from the University of Alberta, led the team that named and catalogued this beast.
The remains of this ancient animal were found in Mexico. However, it is not the only marine predator to be found there. The first confirmed swimming dinosaur, the Spinosaurus, was also discovered in an ancient riverbed in Morocco. Additionally, multiple other mosasaurs have been discovered there over the years.
Unlike the Spinosaurus (or other yet undiscovered land-dwelling dinosaurs who could swim), the mosasaurs were proper aquatic creatures. They aren’t dinosaurs but a completely different genus. When the first remains were found, naturalist Georges Cuvier in 1808 called them “giant marine lizards.”
Very little is known about these behemoths, but some researchers guess these animals might have had mammalian features like being viviparous. On the other hand, most known dinosaurs were reptiles which means they laid eggs.
Mosasaurs had other land-features like the ability to breathe air. The late Cretaceous aquatic animal could grow up to 55 feet long!
While a lot is yet to be explored, lead researcher Strong suggests they could have been “niche” hunters, a quality which would have allowed them to hunt and coexist in a system brimming with other predators.
Among the remains found in a Moroccan phosphate mine was a three-foot-long skull. A digital reconstruction of the same allows the researchers to analyse its feeding habits based on the structure of the jaw and teeth.
“It’s long snout reflects that this mosasaur was likely adapted to a specific form of predation, or niche partitioning, within this larger ecosystem,” said Strong as reported on Dailymail.
The research was a part of Strong’s graduate thesis in which she posits how the Gavialimimus’s alligator-like jaw would have helped it “catch rapidly moving prey.” The study was published in Journal of Systemic Paleontology.
Mosasaurs, Crocodiles, Species
World news – GB – Remains of New Mosasaur Species With a Crocodile-like Snout Discovered in Morocco