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Jurassic Monster found in Norway

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2006_10_05t154410_450x322_us_environment_fossil.jpg

Goodbye Nessy.

"Monster" fossil found in Jurassic graveyard

The Norwegian researchers discovered remains of a total of 28 plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs -- top marine predators when dinosaurs dominated on land -- at a site on the island of Spitsbergen, about 1,300 km (800 miles) from the North Pole.

"One of them was this gigantic monster, with vertebrae the size of dinner plates and teeth the size of cucumbers," Joern Hurum, an assistant professor at the University of Oslo, told Reuters on Thursday.

"We believe the skeleton is intact and that it's about 10 meters (33 feet) long," he told Reuters of the pliosaur, a type of plesiosaur with a short neck and massive skull. The team dubbed the specimen "The Monster."

Such pliosaurs are known from remains in countries including Britain and Argentina but no complete skeleton has been found, he said. The skull of the pliosaur -- perhaps a distant relative to Scotland's mythical Loch Ness monster -- was among the biggest on record.

Scientists would return next year to try to excavate the entire fossil, buried on a hillside.

Plesiosaurs, which swam with two sets of flippers, often preyed on smaller dolphin-like ichthyosaurs. All went extinct when the dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago.

The scientists rated the fossil graveyard "one of the most important new sites for marine reptiles to have been discovered in the last several decades."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061005/sc_nm/...nment_fossil_dc

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