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From left to right a partial snout with teeth and tooth bases, partial braincase, and a section of upper jaw with tooth bases. Credit: Ms. Christina Byrd, Paleontology Collections Manager at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas.
The smallest Tylosaurus mosasaur fossil ever found has been revealed in a new study in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology and surprisingly it lacks a trademark feature of the species.
Fossil - Snout - Species - Lack - Snout
The fossil, likely to be that of a newborn, does not have the recognizable long snout typically seen in the species. The lack of this snout initially perplexed researchers, who struggled to identify which group of mosasaurs it belonged to.
After examining and comparing the fossil to young specimens of closely-related species, such as T. nepaeolicus and T. proriger which already had identifiable noses, researchers finally deemed it to be a young Tylosaurus.
Author - Professor - Takuya - Konishi - Department
Lead author Professor Takuya Konishi, of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati said, "Having looked at the specimen in 2004 for the first time myself, it too took me nearly 10 years to think out of that box and realize what it really was—a baby Tylosaurus yet to develop such a snout.
For those 10 years or so, I had believed too that this was a neonate of Platecarpus, a medium-sized (5-6m) and short-snouted mosasaur, not Tylosaurus, a giant (up to 13m) mosasaur with a significantly protruding snout."
Lack - Snout - Baby - Specimen - Researchers
The lack of snout in the baby specimen found suggests to researchers that the development of this feature happens extremely quickly,...
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