Thursday, October 05, 2006

Monsters from the Ancient Seas

Norwegian scientists are describing new species from a huge cache of marine reptile fossils. The fossil "graveyard," dating back 150 million years, was found on the Arctic island of Spitzbergen. Fishlike icthyosaurs, long-necked plesiosaurs, and short-necked pliosaurs once roamed the area. One pliosaur skeleton has been nicknamed "The Monster." The Monster's skull is almost three meters long, and still sports teeth the size of bananas. One scientist exclaimed, "What's amazing here is that it looks like we have a complete skeleton. No other complete pliosaur skeletons are known anywhere in the world."

Meanwhile, Canadian researchers found a new species of ichthyosaur in a unique place - under a ping-pong table. At the University of Alberta, researchers renovating their lab space moved an old ping-pong table and looked into the boxes they found underneath. There, untouched since someone had stashed them in 1971, were the 100-million-year-old remains of a new species of icthyosaur. Michael Caldwell, who co-authored the paper naming the new species, said, "I did my undergraduate work here and I was studying specimens right on top of this table."

THANKS TO: Kris Winkler for noticing the first article, and to Angela (I know her only by her MySpace name) for the second.

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