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Nature & Environment Prehistoric Ocean Predator Discovered

Prehistoric Ocean Predator Discovered

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First Posted: Jan 29, 2013 06:14 AM EST

A team of scientists at the Edinburg University has discovered prehistoric remains of an ocean predator and named this species as Tyrannoneustes lythrodectikos.

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This particular specimen was discovered by an amateur paleontologist Alfred Leeds, in the early 1900s in a clay pit located near Peteborough. Since then the bones of these specimen have been kept in the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow.

Tyrannoneustes lythrodectikos refers to "blood-biting tyrant swimmer". Tyrannoneustes mostly resided in the shallow sea with several other marine reptiles.

"It is satisfying to be able to classify a specimen that has been unexamined for more than 100 years, and doubly so to find that this discovery improves our understanding of the evolution of marine reptiles," Dr Mark Young of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences  told Scotsman.

These bones were analyzed by Dr. Young in 2011 who realized that they belonged to an unknown species. He concluded that they may be distantly related to the modern day crocodile.

The study of the partial skeleton that included a 70 cm jawbone and teeth suggested that they belonged to a group of crocodiles that were similar to dolphins.

The serrated teeth and the large gap present in the jaw, according to the scientists showed that the animal mostly fed on large preys.

According to the reports, this new discovery indicates a missing link between the marine crocodiles and modern day killer whales.

"It is comforting to know that new species can still be found in museums as new research is carried out on old collections. It is not just the new species that are important, but an increase in our understanding of how life evolved and the variety of life forms that existed 163 million years ago in the warm Jurassic seas around what is now Britain," Dr Neil Clark, paleontology curator at the Hunterian was quoted in BBC.

The details of the new finding appear in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology.

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