website they’re touting the skull of potentially the “largest sea monster” yet discovered. Of course, journalists will snicker behind their fans at the title of the article; everyone knows you bring them in with big promises. The facts of the case, as it turns out, are a little less impressive if no less interesting.
The skull in question is that of a pliosaur and was found by amateur fossil hunter Kevan Sheehan at the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site in Dorset County, England. Pliosaurs were a form of plesiosaur which was, according to The Encyclopedia of the Sea by Richard Ellis, not a dinosaur but a marine lizard. These creatures swam the coastal oceans of most of the world in the Triassic and Jurassic periods. They averaged about 15 feet long, had four, flat flippers and sported pair of high nostrils similar to a modern whale’s blowhole. The long necked versions, called elasmosaurs, are sometimes bandied about as a possible relative of the elusive Loch Ness Monster.
The skull in question is almost eight feet long and the article notes that it “… would have had a strong enough bite to snap a car in half…” Disconcerting on any level but is it the “largest” prehistoric skull yet found?
Hans Sues, a paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. puts the brakes on that kind of hyperbole with this statement at the end of the article:
… there is an unfortunate tendency to brand every new find as the largest…
That said, this article at Archaeology Daily News discusses the find of a huge, prehistoric crocodile in – of all places – Texas. As noted, it weighed a ton and was 25 feet in length. I’m compelled to wonder what insight Dr. Sues might have on this mammoth monster…
Header: Pliosaur via Cosmos online