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Discovery of ‘Nightmarish’ Sea Lizard Fossil Sheds Light on Ancient Marine Ecosystem

fossils of giant sea l 1


Discovery of ‘Nightmarish’ Sea Lizard Fossil Sheds Light on Ancient Marine Ecosystem

A remarkable fossil find has unveiled the existence of a prehistoric marine predator, dubbed Khinjaria acuta, that roamed the oceans some 66 million years ago. Scientists describe the creature as a “nightmarish” sea lizard, measuring approximately 26 feet in length and equipped with dagger-like teeth that gave it a fearsome appearance.

The discovery, based on analysis of a skull and skeletal remains unearthed at a Moroccan mine, provides valuable insights into the diverse marine fauna that thrived during the Late Cretaceous period. Dr. Nick Longrich, leading the study at the University of Bath, describes Khinjaria acuta as having “a demon’s face and teeth like knives,” highlighting its formidable predatory capabilities.

Belonging to the family of mosasaurs, distant relatives of modern-day Komodo dragons and anacondas, Khinjaria acuta was just one of many apex predators inhabiting the ancient Atlantic Ocean. The existence of such a diverse array of top predators underscores the vastly different ecosystem structure compared to modern marine environments.

The extinction of mosasaurs, dinosaurs, and other marine reptiles towards the end of the Late Cretaceous period marked a significant shift in marine ecosystems, paving the way for the emergence of modern-day marine mammals and fish species. Dr. Longrich notes that this transition led to a reduction in apex predators, highlighting the drastic changes that occurred over millions of years.

The findings not only shed light on the evolutionary history of marine life but also raise intriguing questions about the factors that shaped ancient marine ecosystems. Further research into Khinjaria acuta and its contemporaries promises to unveil more secrets about life in the ancient oceans and the complex interplay between predators and prey during the dinosaur age.

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