CNN: Fossil could help solve evolutionary mystery

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turned to a University of Cincinnati biology professor to explain the significance of the discovery of a new species of mosasaur found in North Dakota in 2015.

Takuya Konishi, an associate professor in the UC College of Arts and Sciences, is an expert on mosasaurs, marine reptiles that ruled the ancient oceans as apex predators about 70 million years ago. This animal was the surprise hero of the blockbuster ‘Jurassic World’.

A team of researchers led by Amelia Zietlow of the American Museum of Natural History described a new species of mosasaur that they called Jormungandr walhallaensis, named after a Norse myth about an enormous snake that lived in the land of Midgard.

The mosasaur was about 25 feet long and had features that resembled several species of marine reptiles and were not easy to classify. The findings were published in the journal Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History.

Konishi, who was not part of the study, told CNN that the fossilization process can sometimes distort bones, making it harder to imagine what the animal looked like before it died.

“How different J. walhallaensis is from (the other species) remains to be further investigated,” Konishi told CNN.

But we still have much to learn about these ancient marine reptiles, Konishi said, and studies like Zietlow’s unlock secrets about their rich diversity on the planet during the Cretaceous period.

Read the CNN story.

Featured image at top: The terrifying maw of a mosasaur. Photo/Ravenna Rutledge/UC

UC Associate Professor Takuya Konishi is an expert on ancient marine reptiles called mosasaurs. Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC

/University Release. This material from the original organization/author(s) may be contemporary in nature and has been edited for clarity, style and length. Mirage.News takes no institutional positions or parties, and all views, opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s). View the full document here.

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