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New dinosaur: First freshwater mosasaur discovered

Date:
December 19, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
A new dinosaur species discovered in Hungary is the first known example of a mosasaur that lived in freshwater river environments similar to modern freshwater dolphins, according to new research.

This is an image for Makadi L, Caldwell MW, Osi A (2012) The First Freshwater Mosasauroid (Upper Cretaceous, Hungary) and a New Clade of Basal Mosasauroids. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51781. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051781
Credit: Makadi L, Caldwell MW, Osi A (2012) The First Freshwater Mosasauroid (Upper Cretaceous, Hungary) and a New Clade of Basal Mosasauroids. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51781. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051781

A new mosasaur species discovered in Hungary is the first known example of this group of scaled reptiles to have lived in freshwater river environments similar to modern freshwater dolphins.

The research is published Dec. 19 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Laszlo Makadi from the Hungarian Natural History Museum, Hungary and colleagues from the University of Alberta, Canada and MTA-ELTE Lendület Dinosaur Research Group, Hungary.

The species lived about 84 million years ago, the largest specimens reached about 20 feet in length, and belongs to a family called 'mosasaurs', conventionally thought of as gigantic finned marine lizards, similar and perhaps even related to present day monitor lizards. The researchers discovered several fossils of the new species, ranging from small juveniles to large adults that suggest that this species had limbs like a terrestrial lizard, a flattened, crocodile-like skull, and a tail unlike other known members of the mosasaur family.

The fossils were recovered from an open-pit mine in the Bakony Hills of Western Hungary, which were once flood-plains. According to the study, this is the first known mosasaur that lived in freshwater, and only the second specimen of a mosasaur to have been found in rocks that were not once deposited in the ocean. Makadi says, "The evidence we provide here makes it clear that similar to some lineages of cetaceans, mosasaurs quickly adapted to a variety of aquatic environments, with some groups re- invading available niches in freshwater habitats. The size of Pannoniasaurus makes it the largest known predator in the waters of this paleo-environment."

Even in the modern world, scaly reptiles in the aquatic world are extremely rare. Only a few species live in the water, and even fewer, like marine iguanas and sea kraits, live in the oceans. The new species described here probably adapted to freshwater environments similarly to river dolphins, such as those now inhabiting the Amazon, Ganges and Yangtze rivers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. László Makádi, Michael W. Caldwell, Attila Ősi. The First Freshwater Mosasauroid (Upper Cretaceous, Hungary) and a New Clade of Basal Mosasauroids. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51781 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051781

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "New dinosaur: First freshwater mosasaur discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219173914.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, December 19). New dinosaur: First freshwater mosasaur discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219173914.htm
Public Library of Science. "New dinosaur: First freshwater mosasaur discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121219173914.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

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