High Tech Paints 3D Image of Ancient Beast of the Deep

Aquatic dinosaur had 8-foot skull
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2010 5:47 PM CST
Paleontologist Richard Forrest with the jaw bone of a fossilized pliosaur found on the southern coast of England in Dorchester, England Tuesday Oct. 27, 2009.   (AP Photo/Chris Ison/PA Wire)
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(Newser) – The 50-foot monster was the terror of the Earth's oceans some 150 million years ago, with its giant head packing a crocodile-esque jaw and razor sharp teeth that savaged anything in its way. Or at least that's the picture that's emerging of the pliosaur, as imaging scientists and paleontologists use a powerful CT scanner to paint a 3D image of the beast, the BBC reports. The fossil being examined, an 8-foot skull, would have dwarfed other pliosaurs. "This creature had an enormously powerful bite, it could have bitten a car in half," says a paleontologist.

"It's incredibly exciting," the paleontologist continues. "Nobody has ever seen this fossil, so I get to see it as it is coming out of the rock—it is almost like magic." The scanner allows detailed information to be gathered from the fossil without risking damage to it. One of the first questions being examined is whether the fossil constitutes a new species, or merely an extremely large example of the pliosaur species—to that end, the brain-case and inner architecture of the skull is being closely scrutinized.

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