Friday, June 21, 2024

Lived 66 million years ago.. Unknown rare marine reptile discovery in Morocco | Science

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A new species of mosasaur discovered by scientists for the first time in Morocco, a sea-dwelling lizard from the age of the dinosaurs, has interlocking teeth unlike any known reptile.

An international research team has discovered a mosasaur reptile called “Stellatens mysteriosus” with strange teeth not seen in any known reptile, in the Olad Abdoun area of ​​Kouribka in central Morocco. .

Results are published study In the May 17 issue of the scientific journal “Fossils,” the research team included researchers from the British University of Bath, the National Museum of Natural History in France, the Natural History Museum at Gadi Ayyat University in Marrakech, and a Spanish university. Bilbao.

This new species of mosasaur dates to the late Cretaceous (Nick Longrich)

An unprecedented type

According to Press release Published by the University of Bath, a new species of mosasaur discovered for the first time by scientists in Morocco, a marine lizard dating back to the age of the dinosaurs, has unique and interlocking teeth found in known reptiles.

Dr Nick Longrich, lead researcher at the University of Bath’s Milner Center for Evolution, described the discovery as “surprising. It’s unlike any reptile, or any vertebrate we’ve seen before.”

Alongside him, Dr Nathalie Bardet, a marine reptile expert from the Natural History Museum in Paris, said: “I’ve been working with mosasaurs in Morocco for over 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this before. It was confusing and amazing.”

This new species of mosasaur dates to the late Cretaceous period, was twice the size of a dolphin, and had a unique tooth structure with blade-like lines running down the teeth arranged in a star pattern.

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According to the scientific study, this mosasaur and other marine reptiles were evolving rapidly until 66 million years ago, when they were wiped out by an asteroid along with the dinosaurs and 90% of all species on Earth, the research team pointed out.

There are no close analogues to the unique tooth formation of Styladenz mysteriosus (Nick Longrich).

Nutrition strategy

According to the study, the research team concluded that this new type of mosasaur had an unusual and highly specialized diet and a specialized strategy for catching prey, or it went extinct.

But scientists still don’t know what exactly he ate. In this context, Dr. Longrich said, “We don’t know what this animal ate because we don’t know it alive today or from the fossil record. It may have invented a unique diet.”

Mosasaurs lived alongside dinosaurs, but were not one of them, a giant lizard, close relatives of sea-dwelling Komodo dragons, snakes and iguanas. Mosasaurs evolved about 100 million years ago and diversified until 66 million years ago, when a giant asteroid struck Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and plunged the world into darkness.

According to a scientific study (Nick Longrich) mosasaurs are evolving rapidly.

Within the amazing natural diversity

The new study shows that even after several years of work in the Cretaceous period in Morocco, new species continue to be discovered, and most species are rare, adding to the evidence of their amazing diversity, the research team considered. Marine reptiles 66 million years ago.

The research team that completed the study expects it could take decades to find all the rare species in the highly diverse ecosystem. “We’re not even close to finding everything in this family, and this is the third new species we’ve seen this year alone,” Longrich says. “Scale of Diversity at End of Cretaceous Period Staggering.”

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Although scientists debate the role of environmental changes at the end of the Cretaceous period in the extinction, recent discoveries in Morocco indicate that mosasaurs are evolving rapidly, according to scientific research.

The sites in Morocco provide an unparalleled picture of the amazing biodiversity that existed before the end of the Cretaceous period,” says Noureddine Jalil, Moroccan professor and researcher at the Natural History Museum in France.

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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