Real-life Godzilla? Giant Japanese ‘blue dragon’ terrorized Pacific 72 million years ago

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CINCINNATI — Godzilla isn’t the one monster that terrorized Japanese waters. College of Cincinnati scientists have uncovered a mosasaur, an enormous marine reptile, that lived 72 million years in the past, resembling the dimensions of an important white shark. Based on researchers, this prehistoric creature roamed the Pacific seas, inspiring awe and worry with its formidable measurement and distinctive options.

Mosasaurs, extinct giants of the ocean, had been the apex predators of the prehistoric oceans. They thrived throughout the late Cretaceous period, the period of the Tyrannosaurus rex, however met their finish alongside the dinosaurs 66 million years in the past resulting from a catastrophic asteroid impression.

The newly found mosasaur, named Wakayama Soryu, which means “blue dragon,” after the Japanese prefecture the place it was discovered, reveals traits that set it aside from its kin. Notably, it possessed extra-long rear flippers and a dorsal fin similar to that of a shark, which might have enhanced its agility and velocity within the water.

A mosasaur analyzed by University of Cincinnati paleontologist Takuya Konishi had a dorsal fin like that of a great white shark that allowed it to maneuver with precision in the water
A mosasaur analyzed by College of Cincinnati paleontologist Takuya Konishi had a dorsal fin like that of an important white shark that allowed it to maneuver with precision within the water. (Photograph/Grisha Shoolepoff)

Examine creator Takuya Konishi, an affiliate professor on the College of Cincinnati and an skilled in historic marine reptiles, expressed his shock at this discovery.

“I assumed I knew them fairly nicely by now,” says Konishi in a university release. “Instantly it was one thing I had by no means seen earlier than.”

This specimen, essentially the most full mosasaur skeleton ever present in Japan or the northwestern Pacific, showcases a novel morphology with rear flippers longer than its entrance ones and a crocodile-like head.

“On this case, it was practically all the specimen, which was astounding,” notes Konishi.

The invention was made alongside the Aridagawa River in Wakayama by examine co-author Akihiro Misaki in 2006, initially mistaken for a darkish fossil within the sandstone. After a more in-depth examination, it was revealed to be an almost full mosasaur skeleton.

The Wakayama Soryu compared to a human
The Wakayama Soryu was in regards to the measurement of an important white shark and lived greater than 72 million years in the past throughout the age of Tyrannosaurus rex and different late-Cretaceous dinosaurs. Illustration/Takumi

Researchers have categorised this specimen into the subfamily Mosasaurinae and named it Megapterygius wakayamaensis, which interprets to “massive winged.” This title displays the mosasaur’s enormous flippers, which had been theorized for use for propulsion, a novel swimming method amongst mosasaurs and just about all different animals.

The Wakayama Soryu’s massive entrance fins could have aided in fast maneuvering, whereas its massive rear fins might need offered the flexibility to dive or floor effectively. Its tail, like different mosasaurs, possible generated highly effective acceleration for hunting fish. This mix of hydrodynamic surfaces poses intriguing questions on its swimming capabilities.

“It’s a query simply how all 5 of those hydrodynamic surfaces had been used. Which had been for steering? Which for propulsion?” says Konishi. “It opens an entire can of worms that challenges our understanding of how mosasaurs swim.”

Distinctive amongst mosasaurs, the Wakayama Soryu additionally had a dorsal fin, inferred from the orientation of the neural spines alongside its vertebrae. This function attracts parallels to modern toothed whales, like dolphins and porpoises, which even have outstanding dorsal fins.

The preparation of the fossil was a meticulous course of, taking 5 years to take away the encompassing sandstone matrix. This effort was supported by grants from Japan’s Ministry of Well being, Labour and Welfare, and the Nationwide Sciences and Engineering Analysis Council of Canada. These funds had been essential in enabling researchers to check this distinctive specimen with mosasaurs from world wide.

The examine is printed within the Journal of Systematic Paleontology.

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