The massive swimming lizard that ruled the seas eons ago have come to the surprising discovery that they gave birth in the open ocean, not on or near the shore.
Researchers examined recent specimens at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and they now believed that the massive reptiles, which grow to 50 feet long, had a much different method of birth than scientists originally thought, according to a Phys.org report.
Mosasaurs roamed the seas before they went extinct along with the rest of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Scientists have long wondered about the initial environment of the predator, which is one of the best studied creatures of Mesozoic vertebrate animals but still was very mysterious when it came to its birth, said Daniel Field, who is the lead author of the study which was published in the journal Paleontology, as quoted in the report. Field is a doctoral candidate at Yale.
Field and his team of researchers studied the youngest specimens that were available at Yale’s Peabody Museum, which had been collected more than a century ago and had been thought to be ancient marine birds.
Instead, the team realized that the specimens had jaw and teeth features only found on mosasaurs, and they were found in deposits in the open ocean, according to the report.
The researchers realized that the only reason to think they might be birds was their size, but the findings indicate they are instead baby mosasaurs. The fact that they were discovered out in the ocean indicates that they were birthed not from eggs on beaches or in near-shore nurseries, but out in the open ocean.
The first fossil remains of the mosasaur were found in the Netherlands in 1764. Authorities believe they began to thrive int he oceans when ichthyosaurs died out and plesiosaurs began their decline as a species.