Fossils of terrifying monster sea lizards discovered in Morocco

Artistic representation of Thalassotitan atrox (Credit: Andrey Atuchin/ Bath University)

Researchers from the University of Bath in the UK have discovered the fossil of a new species of mosasaur that ruled the seas for Cretaceous period. The fierce the sea lizard was a peak predator this flourished in Moroccan waters at the same time T. rex was on earth. The scientist named the creature Thalassotitan atrox (T. atrox) from the Greek words “Thalassa” and “titan”, meaning “giant of the seas”. The name of the species atrocious translates to “cruel” or “ruthless”.

“Thalassotitan was a surprising, terrifying animal,” said study director Dr. Nick Longrich. “Imagine a Komodo dragon crossed with a great white shark crossed with a T. rex crossed with a killer whale.”

Dr. Nick Longrich poses next to the huge T. atrox fossil (Credit: Dr Nick Longrich/University of Bath)

Mosasaurs compound a various group of giant lizards that reside much of the Atlantic Ocean from 135 million to 66 million years ago. The scaly– skinned reptiles grew up to 40 feet in length and used its paddle-like fins and tail fin to slide through the water. The Mosasaurs went off at the same time as the dinosaurs after a giant asteroid hit the Earth 66 million years ago. Fortunately, their modern relatives – snakes, iguanas and monitor lizards – have not evolve to be so big.

The remains of the T. atrox were earthen in a region of Morocco that was under water at the end of the Cretaceous. The carnivorous reptile had a massive 5ft long skull and was nearly 30ft long. Unlike other mosasaurs specieswho had a long snout and fine teeth auspicious to eat small fish, T. atrox sported a big muzzle and gigantic, orca teeth. This allowed the lizard to easily devour giant marine reptiles, such as sea turtles, plesiosaurs, and even other mosasaurs. Researchers suspicious the creature’s chipped and broken teeth may have been damaged as it violently attacked its prey and nibbled their bones.

Comparison of the size of the T.atrox (Credit: Dr Nick Longrich/University of Bath)

This isn’t the first time a mosasaur fossil has been found in Morocco, and it probably won’t be the last. The scientists, who published their findings in the journal Cretaceous research on August 24, 2022 I believe the North African country was once home to around 30 different mosasaurs species.

Whereas T. atrox is one of the largest species of mosasaurs, it is not the largest. Mosasaurus hoffmanni, another species of mosasaur found in Russia in 2014, was valued being about 56 feet long.

Resources: Livescience.com, Phys.org, CNN.com