Stillwater News Press

Our World

October 24, 2012

Giant reptile ruled the Jurassic seas

It's official: A giant marine reptile that roamed the seas roughly 150 million years ago is a new species, researchers say. The animal, now named Pliosaurus funkei, spanned about 40 feet and had a 6.5-foot-long skull with a bite four times as powerful as Tyrannosaurus rex.

"They were the top predators of the sea," said Patrick Druckenmiller, a paleontologist at the University of Alaska Museum and co-author of the study, published in the Oct. 12 issue of the Norwegian Journal of Geology. "They had teeth that would have made a T. rex whimper."

Combined with other fossil finds, the newly discovered behemoth skeletons of P. funkei paint a picture of a Jurassic-era ocean filled with giant predators.

In 2006, scientists unearthed two massive pliosaur skeletons in the Svalbard islands, halfway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole. The giant creatures, one of which was dubbed Predator X at the time, looked slightly different from other pliosaurs discovered in England and France over the past century and a half.

Now, after years of painstaking analysis of the jaw, vertebrae and forelimbs, the researchers have determined that Predator X is a new species, and they have officially named it for Bjorn and May-Liss Funke, volunteers who discovered the fossils.

The pliosaurs, marine reptiles that prowled the seas 160 million to 145 million years ago, had short necks, tear-shaped bodies and four large, paddle-shaped limbs that let them "fly through the water," Druckenmiller said.

P. funkei probably ate plesiosaurs, a related species of long-necked, small-headed reptiles.

The new analysis shows that P. funkei had proportionally longer front paddles than other pliosaurs as well as a slightly different vertebrae shape and different spacing of teeth within the jaw, Druckenmiller said.

In 2008, scientists estimated that Predator X might have been up to 50 feet long. The current study suggests the creature is smaller than that but still about 10 feet bigger than the largest living apex predator — predators with no predators of their own — the killer whale, Druckenmiller said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Our World
  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 22, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 21, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 17, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 17, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 16, 2014

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 16, 2014

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

Must Read
Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Stocks
NDN Video
Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down Rise of the Milkbots TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus WHOPPER OF FISHING STORY: Florida man catches massive Mako shark Maks Chmerkovskiy's "DWTS" Meltdown The many faces of Mike Woodson Ape Builds A Fire And Toasts Marshmallows In Amazing BBC Video Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes "RHOA's" Dramatic Brawl High school, College Drug Ring Busted In Montgomery County High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Raw: Keflezighi, Jeptoo Win Boston Marathon Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii Lindsay Lohan's Jaw-Dropping Secret President Sends Message To Boston And Marathon Runners LA Pastor Attracts Churchgoers with Pot Lauren Stoner Shows Off Her Incredible Bikini Body