The newly identified Mosasaurus was a fish-hunting monster

Smoky Hill Chalk Members have discovered a new species of Mosasaurus in a fossil-rich area of ​​western Kansas.Credit: Takuya Konishi

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have identified a new species of Mosasaurus, an 18-foot-long fish-eating monster that lived 80 million years ago.

UC Assistant Professor Takuya Konishi and his student, UC graduate Alexander Wilman, named it Mosasaurus. Ectenosaurus everhartorum After paleontologists Mike and Pamela Everhart. Mosasaurus inhabited the Western Interior Seaway in western Kansas today.

The discovery was announced this week Canada Journal of Earth Sciences.

The newly identified Mosasaurus marks only the second species of the genus Ectenosaurus..

“Mosasaurus in western Kansas is well sampled and well studied. These two factors create a great deal of probability when trying to find something new,” says Konishi.

Mosasaurus is a giant marine reptile, some as large as a school bus.They lived in the oceans around the world during the Cretaceous Tyrannosaurus Rex..If Ectenosaurus Crydustides Konishi said the new species is particularly close to the false gharial crocodile, which has a dull jaw, as its long, thin jaw resembles a gharial crocodile.

Konishi, who teaches at the Department of Life Sciences at UC’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, first encountered fossils in 2004 while working as a graduate student in phylogenetics and evolution.Konishi was studying fossils PlatecarpusAnother genus of Mosasaurus, stored in the Sternberg Museum of Natural History at Fort Hays State University, found something strange about one specimen.

The newly identified Mosasaurus was a fish-hunting monster

UC paleontologist Takuya Konishi helped identify a new species of Mosasaurus from the first specimens seen in 2004. Here he stands in front of another Mosasaurus skull. Credit: Joseph Fuqua II / UC Creative

“It wasn’t platecarpus. The frontal bone above the orbit was much longer. Platecarpus We needed a wider triangle, “he said.” It was an obvious sign. “

Konishi suspected that the specimen was a species of exodermis, and only one of them was identified. But all the teeth seemed wrong. The empty socket, which should have contained the sharply curved teeth of Mosasaurus in an unidentified specimen, is a mouth, unlike other recognized species with a toothless snout and a bony prominence in front of the mouth. Would have grown in front of.

For years, fossils have puzzled him.

“Some things come to my mind and it’s hard to let go,” he said.

But Konishi was busy finishing him, so the mystery would have to wait. doctorate He began his academic career, taking him to UC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The first Mosasaurus fossil was discovered in the Netherlands half a century before everyone used the term “dinosaur”. Mosasaurus was created after the civil war when Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, the country’s leading paleontologists, began studying Cretaceous limestone in Kansas in a bitter public feud. It started to attract attention. Since then, Kansas has become world-famous for its study of Mosasaurus.

Generations of experts have come to Kansas to study specimens on display in museums around the world.

The newly identified Mosasaurus was a fish-hunting monster

Alexander Wilman, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, was the lead author of a study identifying new species of Mosasaurus.Credit: Takuya Konishi

“It’s a famous place for studying Mosasaurus. It’s very well known,” said Konishi. “So I thought I didn’t have to be a man to make a stake. I’m sure someone would catch it, but no one caught it.”

According to Konishi, Mosasaurus is rare in that it has fewer specimens found in this genus than other Mosasaurus.

“There are more than 1,500 Mosasaurus specimens in western Kansas, of which only one specimen represents these two Mosasaurus species,” said Konishi. “It’s a little crazy”

When Konishi confirmed to the Sternberg Museum that no other researchers were studying the specimens, he asked them to send the fossils to the University of California. When I opened the contents carefully wrapped in foam, I was able to confirm the first impression.

“By that time, I was looking at all the other known things Platecarpus So to speak, a specimen in the sun. And this specimen was different from the other specimens, “he said.

At the same time, Konishi’s student Wilman asked about working on a research project. He received the UC Undergraduate STEM Experience Grant to assist in taxonomic identification.

“I was excited to be part of the discovery,” Wilman said.

The newly identified Mosasaurus was a fish-hunting monster

UC researchers have confirmed that Mosasaurus belongs to the same genus as Ectenosaurus cridustides, as shown in the photo. The above specimen was discovered in Kansas in 1953. Credit: Mike Everhart

The third author of this study, Michael Caldwell, is a professor of biology at the University of Alberta at Edmonton.

Wilman described fossils in painstaking details to help scientists understand the morphological differences that make Mosasaurus unique.

“I was very pleased with how he brought these broken bones back to life,” Konishi said. “This helped make our case very convincing to everyone that it is a new justification for the establishment of a new taxon.”

Researchers dedicated the project to the late Dale Russell. His work had a major impact on Mosasaurus paleontology in North America, Konishi said.But they Mosasaurus A Kansas couple who have shared fossils with museums for over 30 years and led a research field trip on the fossil-rich Smoky Hill Chalk for Ever Hearts.

“We’re still a little shocked by the news, which is very exciting,” said Pamela Everhart.

“This is a great honor,” said Mike Everhart, author of The Sea of ​​Kansas, about Mosasaurus and other prehistoric lives that lived in the Western Interior Seaway during the Cretaceous. increase.

He said Mosasaurus was very special to him.

“The sea would not have been a safe place to swim in the Cretaceous,” he said. “At that time, Mosasaurus was the best predator in the sea.”

Did Mosasaurus hunt like a killer whale?

For more information:
Alexander J. Wilman and others, a new species of Ectenosaurus (Mosasaurus: Plioplatecarpus) from western Kansas, USA, reveal a new suite of osteological features of this genus. Canada Journal of Earth Sciences (2021). DOI: 10.1139 / cjes-2020-0175

Quote: The newly identified Mosasaurs is a fish hunting monster (2021) obtained from on August 27, 2021. August 27, 2014)

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The newly identified Mosasaurus was a fish-hunting monster

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