Discovery of a giant lizard that terrorized the ocean 66 million years ago!

Les mosasaures sont apparus il y a plus de 100 millions d'années, avant de disparaître durant la crise du Crétacé-Tertiaire il y a 66 millions d'années. © dottedyeti, Adobe Stock

The remains of a gigantic sea lizard have just been found in Morocco. At over 10 meters long, this carnivorous reptile is said to have ruled the oceans during the Late Cretaceous and devoured countless amounts of prey!
[EN VIDÉO] Jurassic World: Could we recreate dinosaurs? In the Jurassic Park saga, dinosaurs are recreated from the blood of a fossilized mosquito, which contained intact dinosaur DNA. Would the same process actually be possible? A strange fossil has just been discovered in the Oulad Abdoun Basin in Morocco: a giant lizard! Called Thalassotitan atrox, this gigantic marine reptile, belonging to the mosasaur family, measured about ten meters in length, more than twice the length of the largest reptiles today, the crocodiles. Related to iguanas and monitor lizards, it would have lived during the late Late Cretaceous, and even ruled the oceans, according to a study published in Cretaceous Research. Analysis of the remains found revealed a skull 1.5 meters long and a broad, short jaw with sharp but worn teeth, suggesting a diet of hard-to-chew prey such as sea turtles, plesiosaurs, or even other mosasaurs. A hypothesis supported by the rest of the fossils found near the specimen: sea turtle shell, plesiosaur skull, mosasaur bones…, probably spit remains after difficult digestion. “Thalassotitan was an amazing and terrifying animal,” says Nick Longrich, first author of the study and paleontologist at the University of Bath, UK. Imagine a Komodo dragon crossed with a great white shark crossed with a T. rex crossed with an orca.” Thalassotitan atrox took over after ichthyosaurs and pleiosaurs, so it was well placed on the food chain, probably at the top. In fact, during the late Late Cretaceous, between 90 and 66 million years ago, when one or more asteroids hit Earth, mosasaurs diversified and gradually replaced the ichthyosaurs that ruled the seas until 90 million years ago. millions of years he discovered that the other bones still cannot confirm that it was indeed Thalassotitan atrox that devoured the other animals whose remains were found. “But we have bones of marine reptiles that were killed and eaten by a large predator. And in the same place, we find Thalassotitan, a species that fits the killer profile: it’s a mosasaur that specializes in preying on other reptiles marines. It’s probably not a coincidence,” concludes N.Longrich. The T-rex, a predator…slow The T-rex, which, according to legend, was an exceptional predator, was actually quite slow. It only ran at 30 miles per hour. Not bad for a 6-ton animal, but not spectacular for the so-called “king of animal life.” Osborn, the author of these words, and Brown, in fact, they had eagerly offered a “paleo-show” to burnish its reputation. In the beast’s dump, it could still snatch up to 35 kilos of fresh meat in one bite of its jaw! © Courtesy of Vlad Konstantinov One-third of the dinosaurs would never have existed Of all the known species of dinosaurs, one in three would be an illusion… This is the conclusion reached by the famous paleontologist John Jack Horner and his colleague Mark B. Goodwin. The marked morphological differences between juveniles and adults would have misled paleontologists. Therefore, some species would not be different. © Courtesy of Caren Carr, Dinosaurs had feathers! The discovery of a dinosaur fossil in China suggests that dinosaurs were more like large birds than tall, scaly-skinned lizards. This fossil, of a 128-million-year-old, 90-centimeter-tall, bipedal carnivorous dinosaur, provides the first evidence of the existence of dinosaurs covered with real feathers, like those of modern birds. This is the first non-flying dinosaur fossil found with such feathers. At the same time, it suggests that the evolution towards modern feathers began before the appearance of birds. Photo: Archeopteryx. © Courtesy of Jon Hughes, Dinosaurs Could Swim Dinosaurs Could Swim. At least, it’s likely. The discovery was made by examining layers of sandstone sediments, deposited about 125 million years ago at the bottom of a lake located in the current Cameros basin, in Spain. The layer therefore dates from the Lower Cretaceous and contains a track 15 meters long. There are a series of S-shaped prints, about 15 centimeters wide and 50 centimeters long, which resemble scratches. In total, there are six pairs of such prints. The allosaurus depicted here may have left these footprints on the lake floor. © Courtesy of Jon Hughes, Dinosaurs Had Cancer Researchers have analyzed 10,000 dinosaur vertebrae from more than 700 museum specimens in North America using a portable X-ray device. Only one group would have suffered from a tumor: the hadrosaurs or duck-billed dinosaurs. The team found 29 tumors in the bones of 97 individuals from this group of herbivores from the Cretaceous period. The most frequent tumors were hemangiomas, benign tumors of the blood vessels, present in 10% of humans. Edmontosaurus, which measured 3.5 meters, was the only species in which a malignant tumor was found. © DP Dinosaurs were taller than expected Using a ‘cartilage correction factor’, scientists were able to show that some dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus would have been only a few centimeters taller, while Triceratops and Brachiosaurus would have gained at least 10% in size, or more. at least 30 centimeters for a 13-meter brachiosaurus. This has a direct impact on the weight of the dinosaurs, which has therefore also been underestimated. © Marmelad, Tedd Marshall,, CC by-sa 2.5 Crocodiles like Supercroc ate ​​dinosaurs A hundred million years ago, where the Sahara is now, there lived a world of crocodiles. Some were of modest size but the largest, Sarcosuchus imperator, reached 12 meters and must have weighed 8 tons. The Anglo-Saxons like to call it “Supercroc”. This giant is not unknown, it was discovered by the Frenchman Philippe Taquet in 1964. The discovery of the team led by Paul Sereno, who works for National Geographic, and Hans Larsson, from McGill University in Montreal, n so it’s no surprise. But she is not the only one. Since 2000, these paleontologists have been exploring the Sahara in several places, especially in Niger and Morocco. In these places, which a hundred million years ago were in the heart of a single continent, Gondwana, in the process of breaking up, the team discovered five more species of crocodiles, three of which were unknown to science. To continue the habit of nicknames, the discoverers named them “Boarcroc”, “Ratcroc”, “Dogcroc”, “Duckcroc” and “Pancakecroc”. His discoveries are the subject of a scientific publication in Zookeys magazine but also of a report on the National Geographic television channel, entitled When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs (“When crocodiles ate dinosaurs”, broadcast on November 21, 2009). Photo: Paul Sereno with his Saharan crocodiles. Supercroc serves as an armrest. Boarcroc (Croc Sanglier) is top right, Pancakecroc (Croc Galette) bottom right. The small heads in the lower left are respectively Ratcroc, Dogcroc and Duckcroc. © Mike Hettwer and National Geographic The extinction of the dinosaurs led to the rise of mammals After the Great Permian-Triassic Extinction (about 252 million years ago) and within a few tens of millions of years, the first dinosaurs and the first mammals appear on Earth. Dinosaurs will quickly prevail and block both the diversification and growth in size of mammals. It is not until asteroid 298 Baptistina causes its mass extinction that an evolutionary radiation burst occurs in mammals. A group of paleontologists, biologists (specialists in evolution) and macroecologists led by Felisa Smith (of the University of New Mexico) has just confirmed that from the KT crisis (between the Cretaceous and the Tertiary, or Cenozoic, 65 million years ago of years) occurs on all continents. an increase in the size of new mammal species. It would therefore be thanks to the disappearance of the dinosaurs that giants like the Baluchithère were able to set foot on the ground of the Blue Planet. © Courtesy of Karen Carr, Dinosaurs: The Bigger The Hotter! Were dinosaurs “warm-blooded” or “cold-blooded”? According to Jamie Gillooly and his colleagues at the University of Gainesville, Florida, who publish the results of their work in Plos Biology, it all depended on their size! From their study it seems that the bigger the dinosaurs were, the higher their temperature was. The reason ? The ratio between the contact surface with the outside and the volume of their body decreased, which allowed them to “store” heat better. A phenomenon that grew when the weight of a dinosaur exceeded 600 kilos. Thus, Jamie Gillooly and his colleagues at the University of Gainesville have established that the smallest species had a temperature of about 25 °C, therefore substantially close to that of their environment, while that of the body of Brontosaurus of 13 tons reached 41 °C. C! Pictured: Argentinosaurus. © Courtesy of Jon Hughes, T-rex had a bird brain! It is still unclear whether Tyrannosaurus rex, often abbreviated as T-rex, were formidable predators or mere scavengers. Paleontologists, on the other hand, are sure that they must indeed have had “bird brains” and not just because birds are the last living dinosaurs and close cousins ​​of the T-rex. In fact, internal casts have long revealed that the brains of these formidable animals that lived in the Cretaceous of North America were really small, and not just compared to their body size. The image is from one of the T-rex skull 3D videos. In colors, we see the different cavities. © Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine Interested in what you just read?
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