Bones of enormous Jurassic sea predators found in cornfield
Scientists in Poland have discovered the bones of huge, swimming predators that roamed the waters 150 million years ago.
With its massive body and elongated, crocodile-like snout, the pliosaurus lived in Europe and South America during the Late Jurassic period, roughly 163-145 million years ago.
Its name comes from the Greek words “plio” and “sauros”, which together mean “more lizard”.
The creatures could grow to over 10 m in length and weigh up to several dozen tonnes.
They had fins for swimming and big pointed teeth for catching their prey, which included fish and marine reptiles.
Polish palaeontologists found the bones in a field of corn in the village of Krzyżanowice in central Poland, near the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, reports Science in Poland.
Their discovery is very rare, they emphasise.
“In Europe, they have so far been discovered in just a few countries, but never in Poland,” said palaeontologist Daniel Tyborowski of the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Museum of the Earth in Warsaw.
Tyborowski and Błażej Błażejowski of the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Paleobiology published their findings in an article in the “Proceedings of the Geological Association” entitled “New marine reptile fossils from the Late Jurassic of Poland with implications for vertebrate faunas palaeobiogeography”.
The bones they found are similar to those discovered in the Late Jurassic localities of the Kimmeridge Clay in Britain and the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic, they note in the article.
In Krzyżanowice, they found several hundred bones, not just pliosaurus ones, but also those of plesiosaurs (another type of marine reptile; unlike the pliosaurus, this one has a long neck), turtles and huge prehistoric crocodiles.
In the pliosaurus’ day, that part of what is now Poland looked very different: it was an archipelago of tropical islands, with warm lagoons and sea reservoirs, which is where the maritime animals lived.
“The mighty pliosaurus hunted all the animals whose fossils we found at this site,” Tyborowski added.
In coming months, the palaeontologists will continue their research in Krzyżanowice, hoping to find even more bones of huge reptiles.