Ancient freshwater sea monster fossils discovered

Dec 20, 2012

Scientists have uncovered fossils of an ancient freshwater sea monster called the mosasaur. The fossils are about 84 million years old and were discovered in Hungary according to details released in a recent study. The creature belongs to the family of aquatic reptiles that are said to resemble a cross between a crocodile and a whale.

Paleontologists say that Mosasaurs lacked the long necks found in the plesiosaurs, which some believe to be the Loch Ness monster. The newly discovered fossils are of the first mosasaur discovered believed to have spent its entire life living in freshwater. This particular fossil has been dubbed Pannoniasaurus.

The fossil was discovered in waste dump from a coal mine in western Hungary. Several individual fossils were discovered ranging from 3 feet long to up to 13 feet at the site. According to the scientists, the smaller fossils are those of juveniles and are a rare find. The scientists also believe that the discovery of multiple Pannoniasaurus specimens in one location suggests that the species lived in freshwater and wasn't a saltwater creature that ventured into freshwater rivers on occasion.

The scientists believe that the discovery of multiple fossils in a single location shows that the creatures lived in that specific location at all stages of the lifecycle. This particular site has resulted in the discovery of some other fossils including fossils of fish, amphibians, turtles, lizards, crocodiles, and dinosaurs. The scientists believe that the Pannoniasaurus was likely being "crown predator" within the ecosystem. The creature had small teeth and is believed to have fed mainly on fish, amphibians, and possibly lizards. The creature did have small legs and is suspected to spend a lot of time in the water but venture on the land on occasion just as modern crocodiles and alligators do.

[via National Geographic]

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