viernes, 19 de diciembre de 2008

'Sea monster was colossal'

Enormous beast ... 'The Monster' would have been 50ft long
Sea monster ... this picture shows a size comparison between the Killer whale, the Blue whale and 'The Monster'

EXPERTS have said that a fossilised 'sea monster' excavated in 2007 on an Arctic island is the largest marine reptile ever discovered.

Dubbed 'The Monster', the 150 million-year-old specimen was one of 40 sea reptiles found on Spitspergen, in the island chain of Svalbard, in 2006. It was excavated the following year.

During the Jurassic era, the enormous beast would have measured 15m (50ft) long from nose to tail.

The expedition's director Dr Jorn Hurum, from the University of Oslo Natural History Museum, said the Svalbard monster is about 20 per cent bigger than the previous biggest marine reptile - a huge pliosaur from Australia called Kronosaurus.

He said: "We have carried out a search of the literature, so we now know that we have the biggest [pliosaur]. It's not just arm-waving anymore.

"The flipper is 3m long with very few parts missing. On Monday, we assembled all the bones in our basement and we amazed ourselves - we had never seen it together before."

Plesiosaur palaeontologist Richard Forrest added: "These animals were awesomely powerful predators."

"If you compare the skull of a large pliosaur to a crocodile, it is very clear it was much better built for biting," he said.

"A large pliosaur was big enough to pick up a small car in its jaws and bite it in half."

On the last expedition to Svalbard, experts found remains of another pliosaur which is thought to belong to the same species as The Monster which could have been just as large.

Pliosaurs were short-necked reptiles that lived in the sea.

Fuente: The Sun

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