A marine megapredator from the Cretaceous has just been discovered by a team of researchers

It was better not to bathe off the coast of present-day Morocco in the Upper Cretaceous. Well, fortunately, man only appeared 60 million years later, but all the same, the beast that prowled the seabed at that time has something to fuck up. It is an international team, bringing together researchers from the Paris Paleontology Research Center (National Museum of Natural History, CNRS, Sorbonne University), the Universities of Bath and Bilbao, as well as the Office Chérifien des Phosphates ( Morocco) which updated this megapredator.

Belonging to the family of mosasaurs, marine reptiles, it was baptized, Thalassotitan atrox, “from the Greek Thalassa (sea), titan, (giant) and atrox, (cruel, merciless)”, specifies the press release of the National Museum of Natural History. It situates the character. And here is its description by the Museum: “It was a mosasaur with a short, broad snout with massive, conical teeth, like those of modern orcs. Imposing, this mega-predator had a massive 1.4 meter skull and a body measuring nearly 12 meters in length. “Twice the maximum size of a great white shark…

An exceptional appetite

He therefore lived 67 million years ago, in the Upper Cretaceous, “when the Atlantic Ocean covered part of Morocco with a shallow sea”. Other species of mosasaurs roamed the area but the Thalassotitan atrox was at the top of the food chain. “The jaws and teeth of this large marine lizard were used to seize and tear large prey,” the press release said. According to the shape and condition of the broken and worn teeth of Thalassotitan atrox, its diet must have consisted of large fish and other vertebrates, the carcasses of which greatly damaged its teeth. »

In addition, the paleontologists discovered nearby “numerous fossil remains of marine vertebrates deteriorated by acids, probably resulting from the digestion of a predator”. And among these remains, the researchers identified “large fish, a sea turtle, the remains of a head of a plesiosaur [grand reptile aquatique] half a meter long, and the jaws of at least three different species of small mosasaurs”. It was better, therefore, not to cross paths with the Thalassotitan atrox

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