Today’s Fossil Friday looks at the jaw of a fierce aquatic predator; the mosasaur! The name mosasaur is from the Latin word “Mosa”, meaning “Meuse River” in the Netherlands where the creature’s first remains were discovered around 1780. “Saur” or “Saurus” is Greek for the word “lizard”, giving mosasaur the title “Lizard of the Meuse River”. With a name ending in “saur”, many mistakenly consider mosasaur to be a dinosaur; but instead, this beast was a sea-dwelling reptile. Mosasaurs lived during the late Cretaceous Period, 96-66 million years ago. Mosasaur fossils have been found all over the world in regions once covered by large lakes, seas and even oceans.
Spanning between 10 and 45 feet long, mosasaurs had double-hinged jaws and flexible skulls, which enabled them to devour their prey whole. What was this prey? Mosasaurs ate nearly everything in their marine habitats including seabirds, ammonites, fish and even marine dinosaurs and reptiles. It’s believed that the bite of a mosasaur had at least as much force as that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex! Interestingly, mosasaurs, unlike modern reptiles, reproduced through live birth instead of laying eggs. This was revealed due to a recent discovery of two baby mosasaur skeletons within the belly region of another. Mosasaurs went extinct during the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous Period.
The Shops at Nature’s Art Village has a large selection of mosasaur teeth and jaw bone fossils; to view our full selection stop into Nature’s Art Village on Route 85 in Montville.
Check back next week for another Fossil Friday.