Mosasaur fossil  LA Museum: 85 Million Year Old Sea Monster Featured

Mosasaur fossil - Picture: Dinosaur Institute, NHM

One of the most intriguing and hardiest of marine predators, the marine mosasaur PlatecarpusPlatecarpus, thrived in the Cretaceous Period, which is somewhere in the vicinity of 85 million years ago, and it is believed to have gotten around much like an eel does.

This theory has been proven wrong however, and was thoroughly rebuked in a new paper published today in the journal PloS ONE. A crack team of scientists and researchers from all over the world have taken another look at the animal’s “body plan”, based on a well preserved specimen which is housed at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles County.

This particular specimen of the Mosasaur was found in Kansas back in 1969, and it made its way to the Natural History Museum in short time. It is made up of four different slabs, which make the specimen virtually 100% complete, and is 20 feet long. Dr. Chiappe was the one who got the team together for the preparation of the specimen, and with their help wrote the research paper. “It is one of several exceptional fossils that will be featured in Dinosaur Mysteries,” explained the curator of the 15,000-square foot landmark exhibition that opens at the museum in 2011, also Chiappe.

Before the Big Day, the fossil will be on display in the museum’s Dino Lab temporarily. This Dino Lab is situated on the second floor of the museum, where researchers prepare fossils in plain view of the curious public.

This Mosasaur fossil is “the finest preserved mosasaur in existence” comments Dr. Johan Lindgren, the lead author of this new research report. This specimen still has a partial outline of the body, skin color markings, external scales, a tail, bronchial tubes, and even stomach contents.