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3d art render of large Mosasaurs about to make a meal of a sea turtle.
Image made with bryce 3d.
5027 Views as of Aug.30,2012
Mosasaurs breathed air and were powerful swimmers that were well-adapted to living in the warm, shallow epicontinental seas prevalent during the Late Cretaceous Period. Mosasaurs were so well adapted to this environment that they gave birth to live young, rather than return to the shore to lay eggs, as sea turtles do.
The smallest-known mosasaur was Carinodens belgicus, which was about 3.0 to 3.5 m long and probably lived in shallow waters near shore, cracking mollusks and sea urchins with its bulbous teeth. Larger mosasaurs were more typical: mosasaurs ranged in size up to 17 m. Hainosaurus holds the record for longest mosasaur, at 17.5 m.
Mosasaurs had a body shape similar to that of modern-day monitor lizards (varanids), but were more elongated and streamlined for swimming. Their limb bones were reduced in length and their paddles were formed by webbing between their elongated digit-bones. Their tails were broad and supplied the locomotive power. This method of locomotion may have been similar to that used by the conger eel or sea snakes today. The animal may have lurked and pounced rapidly and powerfully on passing prey, rather than hunting for it.
Skeletal drawings of three types of mosasaurMosasaurs had a double-hinged jaw and flexible skull (much like that of a snake), which enabled them to gulp down their prey almost whole, a snakelike habit that has helped identify the unmasticated gut contents fossilized within mosasaur skeletons. A skeleton of Tylosaurus proriger from South Dakota included remains of the diving seabird Hesperornis, a marine bony fish, a possible shark and another, smaller mosasaur (Clidastes). Mosasaur bones have also been found with shark teeth embedded in them.
Based on features such as the double row of pterygoid (“flanged”) teeth on the palate, the double-hinged jaw, modified/reduced limbs and probable methods of locomotion, many researchers believe that snakes and mosasaurs may have had a common ancestor. “From Wikipedia”