London, October 28 (ANI): Paleontologists have unearthed the fossilized skull of a colossal "sea monster" along the UK's Jurassic Coast, which may have measured up to 16m in length, making the T. rex seem like a kitten compared to it.
According to a report by BBC News, the fossil, which was found by a local collector, has been purchased by Dorset County Council.
The ferocious predator, which is called a pliosaur, terrorized the oceans 150 million years ago.
"I had heard rumours that something big was turning up. But seeing this thing in the flesh, so to speak, is just jaw dropping. It is simply enormous," paleontologist Richard Forrest told the BBC. Pliosaurs were a form of plesiosaur, a group of giant aquatic reptiles that dominated the seas around the same time that dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
They had short necks and huge, crocodilian-like heads that contained immensely powerful jaws and a set of huge, razor-sharp teeth.
Using four paddle-like limbs to propel their bulky bodies through the water, they made easy work of passing prey such as dolphin-like ichthyosaurs and even other plesiosaurs.
"These creatures were monsters. They had massive big muscles on their necks, and you would have imagined that they would bite into the animal and get a good grip, and then with these massive neck muscles they probably would have thrashed the animals around and torn chunks off," said David Martill, a palaeontologist from the University of Portsmouth.
"It would have been a bit of a blood bath," he added.
Experts think this latest discovery could represent one of the largest pliosaurs ever found.
The fossil comprises a lower jaw and upper skull, and based on their length of 2.4m (7.9ft), it is estimated that the creature would have measured between 10 and 16m (33-52ft) from tip to tail, and would have weighed in at a hefty 7-12 tonnes.
According to Forrest, "Pliosaur skulls are very big, but not that robust, in general, and you tend to find them crushed flat - completely 'pancaked'.
"What is fantastic about this new skull, not only is it absolutely enormous, but it is pretty much in 3D and not much distorted," he said.
"You have this wonderful lower jaw - and you can just see from the depth and the thickness that this was immensely strong," he added.
"It could have taken a human in one gulp; in fact, something like a T. Rex would have been breakfast for a beast like this," he said. (ANI)