A gigantic creature, comparable to a whale, was characterised by its enormous jaw and four fin-like limbs: During the era of the dinosaurs, the newly identified megalosaur roamed the oceans. A newly described marine reptile, equipped with an enormous jaw armed with teeth, once terrorised the oceans. According to a research team in the journal Scientific Reports, this approximately 170-million-year-old animal from the dinosaur era is one of the oldest known megalosaurs. The colossal find was assigned to a new group called Lorrainosaurus. This discovery suggests that the era of giant, predatory pliosaurs may have begun earlier than previously thought.
Fossils of the Lorrainosaurus were discovered in 1983
Pliosaurs were extremely successful marine predators of their time and played a similar role in the ocean as modern-day orcas, according to the study. Some species reached lengths of more than ten metres. The newly described species was probably about six metres long, had a jaw about 1.3 metres long with large, cone-shaped teeth and a torpedo-shaped body. Locomotion was performed with the help of four fin-like limbs.
Pliosaurs were marine reptiles with massive skulls and short necks, and their evolution into giant apex predators over 170 million years ago led to a worldwide decline in other predatory marine reptiles, according to a statement from Uppsala University on the study. Lorrainosaurus is therefore the oldest known specimen of a giant pliosaur to date.
The fossils of Lorrainosaurus were discovered in 1983 in a ditch near Metz in Lorraine in north-east France. Only now have they been examined in detail by palaeontologists, including researchers from the Bielefeld Natural History Museum and Uppsala University (Sweden). “Lorrainosaurus was one of the first really large pliosaurs,” explains Sven Sachs from the Natural History Museum. This creature founded a dynasty of predatory mega marine reptiles that ruled the oceans for around 80 million years.