Curvin Metzler, a fossil collector, has discovered a rare species of plesiosaur in Alaska. A team of paleontologists has analyzed the fossils and identified the prehistoric marine creature as being an elasmosaur.
The plesiosaurs were prehistoric creatures that belonged to a group of marine reptiles that lived in the ancient oceans and seas of the Mesozoic period, more than 200 million years ago. Their body was broad and flat, and had a short tail. Experts say there were two morphological types of plesiosaurs: one was called plesiosauromorph, which had a very long neck and small head, compared to its body. The plesiosauromorph was a slow animal and preyed on small sea creatures. The other type of plesiosaur is called pliosauromorph and had a small neck, a big head and was bigger and a lot faster than the plesiosauromorph. The experts said this prehistoric marine reptile was on top of the food pyramid millions of years ago.
The recently discovered rare species of plesiosaur belongs to the latter group and its name is elasmosaurus. The scientists describe it as having a very long neck, measuring almost 14 meters in length and weighing more than 2,000 kilograms, which made it one of the largest and heaviest plesiosaurs.
Patrick Druckenmiller, a researcher at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, explained that the ancient marine creature resembled the mythical Loch Ness monster that is believed to live in the lakes of Scotland.
The elasmosaurus lived during the late Cretaceous period, more than 70 million years ago. Although this is not the first plesiosaur discovered in this region, this is the first that was ever found in Alaska.
Metzler has found other fossils in this area in the past. He discovered the fossils of this plesiosaur while searching for something else. Metzler said he is mainly interested in discovering invertebrate creatures, so when he noticed the first vertebra he realized it must be the bone of an ancient creature. He didn’t want to disturb the site where the fossils were found so he called Patrick Druckenmiller who is an expert in prehistoric fossils. He said that Druckenmiller is specialized in marine reptiles and the collaboration with him was very interesting.
Druckenmiller said he was very excited to see and analyzed the fossils that Metzler had found. He recognized one of the vertebrae and said that based on the size of the bones, the prehistoric sea monster must have been at least 25 ft long.
Image Source: indiatoday