Researchers have analyzed a small Tylosaurus mosasaur fossil and realized they were looking at the remains of a baby Tylosaurus. Their findings were published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and shows that the specimen has no trademark features of its species.
The newborn Tylosaurus seems it didn’t have the long snout seen in the species, which made researchers struggle to find out which kind of mosasaur it was.
Examination and comparison of the fossil to other young specimens of other related species like the as T. nepaeolicus and T. proriger helped researchers conclude that this baby mosasaur was a Tylosaurus.
Professor Takuya Konishi (the University of Cincinnati, Department of Biological Sciences), who is the lead author of the study, said that:
“Having looked at the specimen in 2004 for the first time myself, it too took me nearly 10 years to think out of that box and realize what it really was — a baby Tylosaurus yet to develop such a snout. For those 10 years or so, I had believed too that this was a neonate of Platecarpus, a medium-sized (5-6m) and short-snouted mosasaur, not Tylosaurus, a giant (up to 13m) mosasaur with a significantly protruding snout.”
The Biggest Mosasaur Ever Known
The conclusion then added to the information on this species’ development. The long snout will start developing sometime between birth and the juvenile stage.
Konishi added that “yet again, we were challenged to fill our knowledge gap by testing our preconceived notion, which in this case was that Tylosaurus must have a pointy snout, a so-called ‘common knowledge.’
The remains of this tiny Tylosaurus were a partial snout with tooth bases and teeth, a partial braincase and a fragment of the upper jaw. Together, researchers estimated that the baby skull must have been almost 30cm (1ft).
Tylosaurus were one of the largest mosasaurs ever known to researchers. These ancient creatures would grow as big as 13m long, with 1.8 m of the body being just the head. The baby was just a sixth of the size of an adult.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.