Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pliosaurus funkei

Pliosaurus funkei (compared to an Orca, Blue Whale, and Human)
Today we'll be learning about yet another newly discovered species... only this one is already extinct, and has been so for around 150 million years.

Back in 2006, scientists uncovered several fossils in the Svalbard Islands. The dig there has taught us a great deal about the creatures that once swam the Arctic Ocean. It has uncovered several new species, including two new Ichthyosaurs, a new Plesiosaur, some invertebrates, and a gigantic creature known as Predator X. They knew that this massive marine monster was probably a Pliosaur, but it took several years of analysis to confirm that the bones belonged to a new species. The official report came out just this past month.

We know now that Pliosaurus funkei was something new because it had longer front paddles, differently shared vertebrae, and differently spaced teeth. It may have grown as large as 40ft long, and had a skull nearly 7ft long. Pliosaurus funkei was certainly an apex predator-- it had four times the bite power of a T-Rex! They most likely hunted Plesiosaurs and other smaller marine reptiles.

Status : Extinct for 150 million years
Location : Found in Svalbard, Norway
Size : Length up to 40ft (12m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Reptilia -- Order : †Plesiosauria
Family : †Pliosauridae -- Genus : †Pliosaurus -- Species : †P. funkei

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