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Notebook: Oct. 16, 2006

2 minute read
Elisabeth Salemme and Kaili Mcdonnough

Dinosaur lovers can add “T. Rex of the sea” to their list of the most amazing creatures ever to inhabit Earth. Norwegian researchers last week announced their discovery of what they believe to be the first complete skeleton of a vicious 150 million-year-old reptile from the Pliosaur genus–possibly a previously unknown species–in a dinosaur graveyard off the Svalbard islands of the Arctic. The 33-ft.-long Jurassic beast, shown here grabbing a meal in an artist’s rendition, had vertebrae as wide as dinner plates and teeth as big as cucumbers. University of Oslo paleontologist Joern Hurum says the skull resembles depictions of Scotland’s elusive Loch Ness monster.

The skeleton will help researchers identify bones–found in digs in Britain, Germany and Russia–that have long been thought to be from the mysterious Pliosaur. Hurum believes there’s more digging to be done. His team found 28 skeletons of plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs in just 11 days this summer–“I think it’s a world record!” he says–several from species that they think may never have been identified before. He is convinced there’s more where that came from. His team plans to spend at least the next five summers excavating their paleontological gold mine.

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