Not quite the Loch Ness monster, yet an extraordinary specimen, the skull of a pliosaur — a formidable reptile that ruled the oceans approximately 150 million years ago — has been unearthed from the cliffs along Dorset's Jurassic coast in England.
This remarkable find, with a length of 6 feet, 5 inches, stands as one of the most complete pliosaur specimens ever discovered, according to BBC News, which will showcase the find in a New Year's Day special hosted by David Attenborough.
Scientists were astonished with the find after realizing the specimen's unprecedented level of completeness and preservation. "It's one of the best fossils I've ever worked on," paleontologist Steve Etches told BBC News, explaining, "What makes it unique is it's complete."
Measuring at an impressive 6 feet 5 inches, the pliosaur's skull surpasses the height of most humans, except for professional athletes.
Known as the "apex predator in the ocean," the fearsome creature would have preyed effectively on anything unfortunate enough to share its space, according to paleobiologist Andre Rowe from Bristol University.
The pliosaur's fossilized remains showcase its 130 massive and razor-sharp teeth, leading Rowe to compare it to an "underwater T. Rex,” BBC News reported.
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Fossil enthusiast Phil Jacobs stumbled upon this extraordinary find during a stroll along the rocky beaches of Kimeridge Bay in the United Kingdom last year.
Described by Britannica as having a large head, short neck and streamlined, tear-shaped body, the pliosaur was a powerful predator with jaws capable of producing a bite force of 33,000 pounds per square inch — the highest recorded in any known animal.
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