Mosasaurus (Mosasaurus): description, characteristics, photo

Mosasaurus (lat. Mosasaurus, “lizard from the river Mosa”, lat. Mosa is the name of the river Meuse, etc.-Greek. σαρος lizard) an extinct marine reptile from the family of mosasaurs of the scaly order. The first of the described representatives of the family and the largest of them.

Mosasaurus one of the last mosasaurs. Distinguished by a powerful skull with lost mobility between the bones. Massive, faceted, capable of both cutting and crushing. Binocular vision is practically absent the eyes are directed more to the side. The sense of smell is also poorly developed. All these signs suggest habitat in small (up to 40-50 m) coastal waters.

Bones often carry traces of overgrown fractures the result of fights with their own kind. Findings of the carapys of sea turtles (allopleron Allopleuron Hofmanni) with traces of Moazaurus teeth are also known. Probably attacked any prey that he could master.

Nevertheless, the little developed kinetism of the skull did not allow to swallow large pieces. This kind has approximately 45–46 preseals vertebrae, 8 sacral, 21 intermediate tails with “chevrons”, more than 54 terminal tails.

The history of the discovery

The first Mosasaurus skull that became famous was found between 1770 and 1774 (and not in 1780, as is usually indicated) in the quarries of Petersberg, in the vicinity of Maastricht, by a retired military surgeon K. Hoffmann, who, however, was awarded to give it to the owner of the quarry, Canon Godin. But he didn’t own it for long.

In 1795, the French army invaded Holland. During the siege of Maastricht by the French, the commander of the invading army ordered that the house of the canon be spared during the shelling in order to save the skull of the mosasaurus. The canon hid the precious find. Deputy Fresin penetrated his plans and promised 600 bottles of wine for the discovery of this skull. The next day, 12 grenadiers triumphantly delivered these bones to him and received the promised reward.

The skull was taken to Paris to the Jardin des plantes museum. Initially, the skull was considered the skull of a crocodile, but. Cuvier established that the bones belong to a giant lizard close to monitor lizards. The genus was described by Conybeer in 1822, the name “mosasaur” means “lizard from the river Meuse (Meuse)”.

The above story has been wandering from book to book since the middle of the 19th century, but recent research by Dutch scientists has shown that it is not entirely true. The first Mosasaurus skull was discovered as early as 1766 and is still kept in the Taylor Museum in Haarlem. The second skull apparently never belonged to Hoffmann. It was originally kept by Gaudin, who discussed its nature with his interested contemporaries. Hoffmann, Camper and other scientists of that era examined the known remains of mosasaurs found in the Cretaceous deposits of Holland.

Hoffmann was inclined to believe that the skull belongs to a crocodile. Petrus Camper in 1786 suggested that the jaws (the “first” skull) belonged to a fossil sperm whale, since saltwater crocodiles were not known at the time. Son P. Campera, Adrian Gilles, at the end of the 18th century showed that the mosasaurus is certainly similar to monitor lizards. This opinion was later confirmed by J. Cuvier, who was in correspondence with Camper Jr.

The following types of mosasaurus are known:

Mosasaurus hoffmanni is the type species, named after the discoverer. From the Maastricht of the Netherlands, the largest species the length could reach up to 16-17 meters. Synonyms M. camperi, possibly M. giganteus.

Mosasaurus conodon is a North American species described by E. D. Cope in 1881. Found in the Hanging Formation of New Jersey. Length up to 10-12 meters.

Mosasaurus dekayi is another American species, described by Bronn in 1838. From the Late Maastrichtian of New Jersey and South Dakota.

Mosasaurus ivoensis described from teeth from the Late Cretaceous of Sweden. Recently shown to be in the genus Tylosaurus

Mosasaurus lemonnieri described by L. Dollo in 1889 from a skull from the Late Cretaceous of Belgium.

Mosasaurus maximus is the largest of the American species, described by E. D. Cope in 1869 from the Late Cretaceous of New Jersey. It was originally believed that the length of this species reached 30 meters (Cope imagined mosasaurs as snake-like animals without hind limbs, with a long neck and a very long tail). In reality, about 13 meters long. Possibly a type.

Mosasaurus missouriensis the first American mosasaur to be found, described by Harlan in 1834 as “Ichthyosaurus” missouriensis. From the Late Cretaceous of South Dakota.

Mosasaurus mokoroa from the Late Cretaceous of New Zealand, about 10 meters long.

Mosasaurus hobetsuensis from the early Maastrichtian of Hokkaido, described in 1985. Little different from American species (M. conodon).

Mosasaurus beaugei from the Late Cretaceous of Morocco. Described by K. Arambur in the 1950s on scattered teeth. Recently, more complete remains have been discovered, including a skeleton about 10 meters long. Individual fragments of jaws show that the species could have reached at least 15 meters in length.

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