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    Jurassic Giant: Norway Pliosaur Largest Marine Reptile Ever Found?
    By News Staff | March 5th 2008 08:38 PM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    A pliosaur is a type of plesiosaur, a group of extinct reptiles that lived in the world's oceans 205-65 million years ago. Pliosaurs are characterized by tear-drop shaped bodies with two pairs of powerful flippers used to propel them through the water. They were top predators during their day, preying upon fish, squid-like animals and other marine reptiles. They averaged 16-20 feet in length with flippers 3-4 feet long.

    One of the largest known pliosaurs, the Australian Kronosaurus, measures 33-36 feet long with 6-foot-long flippers. By comparison, the the 150-million-year-old Svalbard specimen discovered in 2006 and analyzed at the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo has been nicknamed "The Monster" because it is perhaps the largest ever found. It is estimated to be 50 feet long with 10-foot-long flippers.



    "This is one of the largest and relatively complete plesiosaur specimens ever found," says University of Alaska Museum of the North earth sciences curator Patrick Druckenmiller, whose research focuses on plesiosaurs. "Its discovery in Svalbard also demonstrates that these gigantic animals inhabited the northern seas during the age of dinosaurs."

    Led by Norwegian paleontologist Jørn Hurum, the international research team, including Druckenmiller, discovered the specimen in summer 2006. Judging from the fragments they recovered at the time, they knew the find was significant and returned the next year to retrieve more of the specimen. During the three-week field season in summer 2007, the team excavated the specimen from the surrounding shale, removing several tons of rock by hand in the process.

    Though they didn't find the entire skeleton, they recovered several critical parts used to identify the specimen and compare it to other known plesiosaurs: portions of the skull, including the teeth; much of the neck and back; the shoulder girdle; and a near-complete forelimb. One of the key questions researchers hope to answer is whether this specimen represents a species new to science.



    In addition to "The Monster" pliosaur specimen, the crew also discovered parts of three other marine reptiles nearby: a long-necked plesiosaur, an ichthyosaur and another pliosaur. Based in part on these discoveries and several others made by the team, scientists now recognize Svalbard as home to one of the richest accumulations of marine reptile fossils in the world.

    "The scientific value of such a large locality with unknown species of marine reptiles is just staggering," says Hurum. Druckenmiller will join Hurum and the Oslo team on another research expedition to Svalbard in August 2008.

    Comments

    is this real?

    hi,
    im asking if the largest living marine reptile really is a pilosaur

    can you please send me an article or something to do with this extraordinary animal?

    sincerly, anonymous

    Hank
    They say 'perhaps the largest' because the entire thing was not found encased in amber or something convenient. They have to extrapolate its size based on a part.

    can you please send me an article or something to do with this extraordinary animal?

    sincerly, anonymous

    This is an article on this extraordinary animal. Plus, how can we send you an article when you are anonymous?

    not trying to be rude here and i love science but seriously........this is a sea monster. lets get it right. you can call it a fancy name but if you saw that things head pop up out the water near your boat...your thinking man the cannons and start blasting..the Krackens here.

    Hank
    Pliosaur or plesiosaur, it's what the heck we're shooting for ...

    Maybe not as ferocious, but Shonisaurus was even bigger than this newly discovered pliosaur. I'm not sure just how dangerous an ichthiosaur could be if they were alive today. But when it comes to size, they were comparable to both the dolphins and baleen whales of today. Also, some of the mosasaurs might be comparable in size to this monster pliosaur.

    logicman
    I don't see Fred Flintstone keeping one of these as a pet!

    There's an update on this leviathon here, where they are plugging a forthcoming documentary.

    It's fairly sure to turn up in Google news, when they sort their servers out. :)