Thursday, October 12, 2006

Researchers Find Prehistoric Remains of Giant, Sea Reptile on Arctic Island

The Associated Press
Published: October 5, 2006

OSLO, Norway The remains of a prehistoric reptile that was "as long as a bus, with teeth larger than cucumbers ... in a head that could swallow an adult human whole," have been discovered on an Arctic island, Norwegian researchers said Thursday.
The University of Oslo's Natural History Museum said researchers on the remote Svalbard islands had discovered the remains of a short-necked plesiosaur, a prehistoric marine reptile. It is believe to be the first complete plesiosaur skeleton ever found. The remains of the 10-meter (33-foot) long ocean going predator were found in August.
Fragments of plesiosaur have been found elsewhere, including in England, Russia, and Argentina, but researcher Joern Harald Hurum said the partially fossilized Svalbard find appeared to be the first whole example. "We are quite sure it is complete," he said by telephone about the partially buried fossils. "We have the head, and can see about six meters (20 feet) of vertebrae before it disappears into the ground."
Hurum said the voracious plesiosaurs were like the Tyrannosaurus Rex of the oceans, "expect its head is much bigger. About 2 meters (6 feet 6 inches) long, compared to about 1.6 meters (5 feet 3 inches) for Tyrannosaurus Rex." Hurum said his team plans return to Svalbard, 500 kilometers (300 miles) north of Norway's mainland, to continue excavations next year. Twenty-seven other marine reptiles were also found during a two-week expedition: 21 long-necked plesiosaurs, sea reptiles similar to drawings of the Loch Ness monster, and six ichthyosaurs, reptiles that looked like fish and had fins.
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