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Khinjaria acuta, the most dangerous marine reptile?

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar8,2024

The superpredator lived at the time of T. rex and Triceratops.< /p>

Khinjaria acuta, the marine reptile The most dangerous?

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Khinjaria acuta was about the same length as a killer whale.

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Mosasaurs aren't known as pretty creatures, but some of these reptiles were uglier than others. With its large, dagger-shaped teeth, its short, massive face, its powerful jaw and its small, piercing eyes, “Khinjaria acuta could well win the ugliness contest,” says paleontologist Nick Longrich , from the University of Bath, United Kingdom.

L&#x27 ;elongation of the posterior part of its skull and the musculature of the jaw suggest that the animal had terrible biting force.

A quote from Nick Longrich, palaeontologist, University of Bath

The marine reptile, which measured 7 to 8 meters, was one of several apex predators that populated the Earth's oceans 67 to 69 million years ago.

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Comparison between the size of a human and that of a Khinjaria acuta.

The British paleontologist and his Moroccan, American and European colleagues unearthed the fossilized remains of the species in the Sidi Chennane mine, southeast of the city of Casablanca, Morocco.

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The fossilized remains of Khinjaria acuta.

In recent decades, this open-air phosphate mine has provided numerous fossils of animal species that populated the seas in the Upper Cretaceous.

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Khinjaria acutawas part of an extraordinarily diverse fauna of predators that inhabited the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco, just before the extinction of the dinosaurs, explains Nick Longrich in a press release.

This discovery shows how the ocean ecosystem of the time was radically different from that of today, since it was home to many giant predators. These animals fed on large prey, unlike current ecosystems where a few predators, such as white sharks, orcas and leopard seals, dominate.

We discovered several species whose teeth were very different, which suggests that they had diversified hunting techniques.

A quote by Nick Longrich, University of Bath

Some mosasaurs had teeth for piercing their prey, and others for cutting, tearing or crush, adds the paleontologist. Khinjariahad a small face full of huge dagger-shaped teeth.

The extinction of the Late Cretaceous marine fauna left a big void . This left the field open to whales, seals and fish like swordfish and tuna. This ecosystem that appeared after the impact was, however, very different from the previous one, notes Nick Longrich.

Today, marine food chains contain only a few large predators, such as orcas, white sharks and leopard seals.

There are many other predators, like baleen whales and dolphins, but they feed on smaller prey.

The detail of this discovery is the subject of an article published in the journal Cretaceous Research (New window) (in English).

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my natasha@thetimeshub.in 1-800-268-7116

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