#FunFactFriday: Mosasaurs are NOT dinosaurs.

Mosasaur

Photo: ArtBrom, Flickr

These flippered, streamline reptiles are technically “marine reptiles”, and part of the order Squamata, meaning they’re related to snakes and monitor lizards. In order to be a dinosaur, an animal must have descended from archosaurs and have fully-open hip joint that gave them an upright stance, among other things. Mosasaurs did live alongside the dinosaurs, however, during the Late Cretaceous, until they went extinct about 65 million years ago. They inhabited the warm seas and were the dominant predator in their ecosystem, even though they had to surface to breathe. Like modern snakes, they had double-hinged jaws that would have allowed them to swallow prey larger than their head, as well as sharp, backward-facing teeth.

Lots and lots of teeth.

strange_creatures_of_the_past_-_ram-nosed_mosasaur
Illustration: Charles R. Knight, 1897

Here’s four more fun facts about mosasaurs:

  • They were cannibals.
  • The name “mosasaur” means “Lizard of the Meuse River”, referencing the river in the Netherlands where the first fossils were found.
  • They were viviparous (meaning they give birth to live young).
  • Mosasaurs reached about 50 feet long, tops – meaning the mosasaur in Jurassic World was almost twice the size of the real animal. (Not that it matters, that thing was FREAKIN’ AWESOME!)

 

#FunFactFriday is a biweekly series where I dedicate a post to a completely random, interesting fact – because the world is a pretty darn random, interesting place.

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