Largest marine reptile 'The Monster' discovered

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London, Mar 2: A 50-foot-long Jurassic predator, the largest marine reptile known to science, has been discovered by Norwegian scientists in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. The predator, known as 'The Monster', is one of the 40 marine reptile fossils found in what is being described as a 'treasure trove' for palaeontologists. The leviathan - known as a pliosaur - was discovered in 2006 and believed to be at 15m (50ft) from tip to tail, the largest known sea reptile.

Talking about the new discovery, that of another pliosaur in the latest field expedition, plesiosaur expert Richard Forrest said, ''These animals were awesomely powerful predators.'' Believed to be of the same species and potentially just as huge as ''The Monster'', Mr Forrest said, ''If you compare the skull of a large pliosaur to a crocodile, it is very clear it is much better built for biting... by comparison with a crocodile, you have something like three or four times the cross-sectional space for muscles. So you have much bigger, more powerful muscles and huge, robust jaws.'' ''A large pliosaur was big enough to pick up a small car in its jaws and bite it in half.'' The Monster's skeleton consists of its snout, some teeth, much of its spine and shoulder socket, and one nearly-complete flipper.

Unfortunately, a stream washed away much of its skull, Mr Forrest said. However, skull parts, teeth and vertebrae have already been recovered from the new specimen, and scientists are hopeful that much more remains to be discovered, the Telegraph reported.

An artist's impression shows the pliosaur (bottom) with a killer whale, a blue whale and a human diver Pliosaurs are a short-necked form of plesiosaur, the long-necked version of which has famously been put forward as a possible identity for the Loch Ness Monster.

UNI

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