Don’t Miss This One of a Kind Fossil!
WORLD’S LARGEST FOSSILIZED MOSASAUR SKULL
on Display at “BIG MIKE’S”
- Discovered the summer of 1994
- Pierre Shale Formation
- Northwestern United Sates
- Skull is 5 feet in Length
- 29 Teeth 1 1/2 – 4 inches in Length
65 Million Year Old Dinosaur Skull
MOSASAURS, TRUE AQUATIC LIZARDS
Early accounts occasionally described plesiosaurs as “savage monsters of horrid mien.” Actually, such lurid adjectives apply
more aptly to the great aquatic true lizards known as mosasaurs.
Mosasaurs were bizarre reptiles, and their introduction to science was equally spectacular. In 1780, workmen discovered a
petrified skull in a subterranean sandstone quarry under the pietersberg (Peter’s Mount), near the city of Maastricht, the
Netherlands. The men sent for an army surgeon and naturalist who had collected fossils from the quarry. He directed work so
skillfully that the entire skeleton was removed.
A Dr. Hofmann recognized the specimen’s value, paid for removing it and prepared it for exhibition. But land above the quarry
was owned by one Cannon Goddin, who went to court, won his case, and seized the fossil. Then, in 1795, a French army
besieged Maastricht, and so famous had the fossil become that the general in command told his gunners to spare the part of
the city containing canon Goddin’s house. Suspecting the reaon for this favor, Canon Goddin hid his specimen, trying to keep
its location secret after the city surrendered. The French thereupon offered a reward – said to have been six hundred bottles of
wine – for the specimen, and a band of thirsty grenadiers soon found it. Taken to Paris, it was described as a “primordial whale”
or a breathing fish,” and then as a “the Great Lizard of the Meuse,” the river that flows past the Pietersberg. A British author
translated this long-winded description into the Latin Mosasaurus.
Mosasaurs ranged around the world during the Late Cretaceous, reaching their zenith in seas that spread inland from the
Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The finest specimens come from chalk deposits of western Kansas and reach a maximum
length of 30 feet (9m.). However, jaws and teeth found in greensand beds of New Jersey, U.S.A., suggest a giant mosasaur
some 45 feet (14 m ) long. The strangest member of the group was Globidens, of the southern United States, South America,
Africa, Europe, and Asia. It apparently fed upon the sea bottom, where it grubbed for clams, snails, and other sluggish molluscs
whose shells it crushed between bulbous teeth that had all but lost their once-sharp points.
A more typical mosasaur, such as Tylosaurus, of Kansas and New Zealand, was an active swimmer with a long body, flattened
tail, and feet that had become broad, webbed paddles with well developed toes. Bony plates covered the top of the head; neck,
body and tail were covered by lizard-type scales still preserved in a few carbonized fossils. Sclerotic rings strengthened the
eyes, and the eardrum consisted of thick cartilage. The lower jaws were each armed with sixteen to eighteen sharp teeth. At the
back of each was a rod of bone, the quadrate. The quadrate with the jaw at one end and a second such joint at the other uniting
it with the skull. This and a ligament linking the two jaws together at the front meant that, like serpents, mosasaurs were able to
drop their jaws and spread them widely in order to swallow oversized food.
Petrified stomach contents show that fish formed the chief food of mosasaurs. With lengths of 20 to 30 feet (6.1-9.1 m.), they
were the only vertebrates that could capture such forms as the “bulldog tarpon” (Portheus Molossus), which weighted 600 to
800 pounds (270-360 kg.) and was as dangerous as most marine reptiles. Another item in the mosasaur diet was ammonites.
Ammonites have been found with puncture marks in their shells that match the teeth of mosasaurs. Because old, dull teeth
dropped from the jaws and were replaced by new ones, mosasaurs never lacked weapons with which to attack rivals or prey.
BIG MIKE’S ROCK & GIFT SHOP
566 Old Mammoth Cave Road
Cave City, KY 42127
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