New 80-million-year-old marine predator discovered by Tyrrell | DrumhellerMail
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Last updateTue, 21 May 2024 12am

New 80-million-year-old marine predator discovered by Tyrrell

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    After five years of research, Dr. Takuya Konishi of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology and colleague Dr. Michael Caldwell from the University of Alberta concluded that the mosasaurs they were studying – a group of large marine lizards that dominated the waters 90 - 65 million years ago – conformed to none of the previously known kinds. Instead, they determined these mosasaurs belonged to an entirely new genus.

     “By carefully comparing the specimens of the new mosasaur Latoplatecarpus with those of a previously know genus, Platecarpus, it became clear that Latoplatecarpus represents a geologically younger and slightly more advanced animal,” explains Dr. Konishi. “Looking down on the skull, for example, it has a pair of anteriorly diverging processes past the eye sockets, a unique feature shared among all the advanced members of the lineage that includes both the new mosasaur and Platecarpus, but the feature is absent from the latter.”
     Its name, Latoplatecarpus willistoni, was derived from “lato”, Latin for “broad” to indicate the anteriorly widely separated nature of the aforementioned processes, and “willistoni”, in honour of an American palaeontologist Samuel W. Williston, whose work on mosasaurs over a century ago founded the basis for the way researchers classify these marine reptiles today.
     Currently, there are over sixty species of mosasaurs known. This new discovery will add to the growing diversity of this uniquely aquatic group of lizards, and will likely help researchers understand the mechanisms behind the evolutionary and ecological success of mosasaurs. This is the first time since 2005 that a new genus has been established in mosasaurs worldwide.
     The paper was published on July 12 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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