A 2-meter skull of a sea monster with 130 teeth found on the coast of England. Photo

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
Pliosaurus reached a length of 10-12 meters. Source: BBC/collage by OBOZ.UA

In Dorset, UK, fossil hunters have discovered the most complete skull of a Jurassic pliosaur ever found. The first examination suggests that the found monster, which roamed the sea almost 150 million years ago, may belong to a previously unknown species.

This is stated in the material of the BBC, whose journalists made a documentary about the discovery. The team of fossil hunters was led by collector Steve Etches.

The skull was found high on a cliff in Dorset, from where it was carefully excavated for several weeks to be lifted to safety by a winch.

A rock in Dorset from which a pliosaur was dug up.

"It's actually the pinnacle of everything I've been involved in," Etches admitted in an interview.

For her part, Judyth Sassoon, a leading pliosaur expert from the University of Bristol (UK), said that "it is very likely that this is a new species."

Known as the "tallest predator in the ocean," the ancient creature was "the ultimate killing machine," capable of moving through the ocean at high speeds and killing its prey in a single bite.

The discovered skull has about 130 long and sharp teeth that can pierce the flesh of a victim.

A giant tooth of a found pliosaur.

The ancient monster preyed on dolphin-like creatures and other pliosaurs. The monster's jaws were more than twice as powerful as those of modern sea crocodiles.

"The animal was so massive that I think it could effectively hunt anything that had the misfortune to be in its space," said Andre Rowe, a paleobiologist at the University of Bristol.

The creatures reached 10-12 meters in length and were able to move quickly using four powerful flipper-like appendages. 

A pliosaur.

The scientists were particularly interested in the fossil's large sagittal ridge, a bone ridge on the back of the skull.

"The height of the ridge may indicate differences between males and females," Sassoon suggests.

The found skull is almost two meters long, but given the ridge, scientists believe that the individual was young and would probably have grown. If this theory is correct, it adds further evidence that pliosaurs were much larger than previously thought.

"We have fragmentary evidence from the Kimmeridgian (late Jurassic) - vertebrae, paddle bones, etc. - that suggest that there were larger pliosaurs around. We just haven't found the skulls yet," Sassoon said.

Steve Etches next to the found skull.

In addition, a CT scan of the sensory pits found on the reptile's face shows that they were connected to blood vessels and sensory nerves capable of detecting pressure changes, which could have helped pliosaurs hunt prey.

The specimen has a complete set of fossilized teeth in its closing jaw, so scientists now understand more than ever about the hunting and eating abilities of pliosaurs.

The jaw of a found pliosaur skull.

In 2024, the skull will be put on public display at the Etches Collection in Dorset.

Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that a skull of a previously unknown species of human was found in China.

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