A fossil of Mosasaurus discovered in Morocco, with unpublished “screwdriver teeth”
21 May 2023 – 8:00 pm – Morocco
A team of British researchers has discovered a new species of mosasaur in Morocco, a giant marine lizard from the age of the dinosaurs, which is distinguished by its unique star-shaped teeth.
Stelladens mysteriosus. It’s the name of a new species of mosasaur, a dinosaur-era sea lizard with strange ridged teeth unlike any other known reptile, reports the University of Bath. The species originated in Morocco during the late Cretaceous (about 145 to 66 million years ago) and was about twice the size of a dolphin. It had a unique arrangement of teeth, with ridges along the teeth in a star shape, reminiscent of a cross-shaped screwdriver, according to Sciencedaily.
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“It’s a surprise,” said lead researcher Dr. Nick Longrich, a paleontologist at the University of Bath’s Milner Center for Evolution. It doesn’t look like a mosasaur, reptile, or any other vertebrate we’ve seen before. “I have been working on the mosasaur of Morocco for more than 20 years and I have never seen anything like it. I was both amazed and delighted,” says Dr Nathalie Bardet, marine reptile specialist at the National Museum of natural history of Paris.
These and other recent discoveries in Africa suggest that mosasaurs and other marine reptiles evolved rapidly until about 66 million years ago, when they became extinct after an asteroid impact that also wiped out dinosaurs and about 90% of all species on Earth.
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“The fauna produced an incredible number of surprises: saw-toothed mosasaurs, a turtle with a snorkel, a multitude of vertebrates of different shapes and sizes, and now a star-toothed mosasaur.” The discovery of Stelladens shows that even after years of searching for fossils from Morocco, the region is still rich in new species waiting to be discovered. “The sites in Morocco offer an unprecedented picture of the incredible biodiversity just before the great crisis at the end of the Cretaceous,” said Nour-Eddine Jalil, professor at the National Museum of Natural History and researcher at Cadi Ayyad University. from Morocco.
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