A new marine reptile that was dated to have lived 190 million years ago was identified by German and Swedish scientists from the Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld and Sweden’s Uppsala University. The fossil was found in a clay pit near the city of Bielefeld in northwestern Germany. The current study findings will be released in the Australian paleontology journal, Alcheringa.
Scientists Offer New Details about This Sea Monster
The researchers named this ‘sea monster’ the Arminisaurus schuberti. They drew inspiration from Arminius and Siegfried Schubert. Arminius was a 1st-century Germanic chieftain that is considered to have defeated Roman legions in 9 AD at Teutoburg Forest near Bielefeld. Siegfried Schubert is the amateur paleontologist that secured the specimen in the 1980s.
Mining machinery had already damaged some of the bones, but enough of them were recovered to make identification possible. The salvageable bones, which made up about 40 percent of the skeleton, included the skull and some limb bones and vertebrae.
A. schuberti was dated to have lived 190 million years ago during the early Jurassic. That makes it a significant find, for it is one of the earliest known plesiosaurs. Only two other plesiosaur fossils that date back to the same time have been discovered.
Arminisaurus also had features seen in plesiosaurs that had lived 50 million years later, during the Cretaceous Period. These features could help scientists trace the evolution of the plesiosaurs.
According to Sven Sachs from the Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld, plesiosaurs were marine predators analogous to killer whales to great white sharks. Some, like Liopleurodon, were also huge and could be 15 meters or 49.2 feet long. By contrast, this sea monster is approximated to have a more modest three to four meters or 10 to 13 feet long. Its diet must have probably consisted of fish, squid, and other small prey besides them.
The fossil remains of this sea monster are set to go on display at the Naturkunde-Museum Bielefeld in Germany.
Image Source: Wikimedia