Sawfish from dinosaur age discovery


This video is called How the sawfish uses its saw.

Translated from Dutch news agency ANP:

Fossil sawfish snout, a unique discovery

Thursday, December 19, 2013 11:11

In the marl quarry of ENCI in Maastricht the fossil snout, called a rostrum, of a sawfish has been found. To our knowledge this is the first discovery in the world of the rostrum of the species Ganopristis leptodon, Brabants Dagblad daily reports.

The fish lived 66 million years ago.

See also here.

New Edmontosaurus dinosaur discovery


This video is called Scientists Discover Duck Billed Dinosaur And An Unusual ‘Fleshy Comb’.

By Emily Chung, CBC News in Canada:

Alberta dinosaur’s head adorned with fleshy comb

Other dinosaurs may have looked quite different from what bones alone show

Dec 12, 2013 11:02 AM ET

An unusually well-preserved fossil of a duck-billed dinosaur has revealed a body part never seen before on any dinosaur.

The Edmontosaurus regalis specimen found west of Grand Prairie, Alta., last year had a soft, fleshy comb on its head, similar to those found on roosters.

“It’s a structure that was completely unexpected,” said Victoria Arbour, a University of Alberta paleontologist who co-authored the scientific paper published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, describing the new fossil.

“It kind of makes us wonder what other dinosaurs might have had.”

Edmontosaurus was a plant-eating dinosaur with a duck-like bill that grew to be 12 metres long — about the length of a bus. It was thought to have roamed North America in herds during the late Cretaceous, about 75 and 65 million years ago, and belonged to a group of dinosaurs known as hadrosaurs, which were the most common dinosaurs on the continent at the time.

Fossils typically only preserve the bones of an animal, not fleshy structures such as a rooster’s comb or an elephant‘s trunk.

Phil Bell, lead author of the paper, said the new findings are “equivalent to discovering for the first time that elephants had trunks.”

Bell, a paleontologist at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, added in a statement, “These findings dramatically alter our perception of the appearance and behaviour of this well-known dinosaur.”

In particular, the existence of the comb adds to evidence that Edmontosaurus was a social animal, as ornaments like combs and crests are typically used for communication among animals such as roosters, especially in relation to competition for females.

“We might imagine a pair of male Edmontosaurus sizing each other up, bellowing, and showing off their head gear to see who was the dominant male and who is in charge of the herd,” Bell said.

Bell was a paleontologist with the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum currently under construction in Grand Prairie, Alta., when he uncovered the fossil last summer with geologist Federico Fanti of the University of Bologna. The museum is named after a renowned University of Alberta dinosaur expert who also co-authored the new paper.

Not a true mummy

It was a rare fossil type of fossil that paleontologists describe as “mummified.” Arbour said such fossils aren’t true mummies, in which flesh is preserved under very dry conditions.

Rather, they are simply well-preserved fossils in which the bones are in the same positions relative to each other that they would have been in life, with impressions of the skin preserved on top.

At the time Edmontosaurus roamed Alberta, its habitat was actually a subtropical, swampy coastal area, Arbour said.

It’s not clear what conditions lead the preservation of skin impressions, she added, but it likely involves the animals dying in a flood and being quickly buried by sand or mud.

She added that even when skin impressions are preserved, they are often only visible in certain lighting or when the rock breaks a certain way, which may be why combs hadn’t been noticed on earlier “mummified” Edmontosaurus fossils.

“It’s something that’s kind of easy to miss.”

Such impressions would have been lost from the fossils when paleontologists later cleaned the rock away from the bone.

While earlier hadrosaurs had bony crests, researchers thought the crest had been completely lost in Edmontosaurus. The new discovery suggests that, in fact, the dinosaurs’ crests had changed, but remained an important feature.

Bell said it also suggests that similar structures may have been missed in other dinosaurs.

“There’s no reason that other strange fleshy structures couldn’t have been present on a whole range of other dinosaurs, including T. rex or Triceratops.”

See also here.

Alberta dinosaur brought to life by NAIT students. Digital media students give flesh and feathers to bare bones of Drumheller fossil find: here.

Tyrannosaurus rex sound contest for children


This video is called Walking With Dinosaurs 3D Official Trailer #1 (2013) – CGI Movie HD.

In the Netherlands, there are not only contests in imitating red deer sounds.

There are also contests in imitating sounds of animals which became extinct long ago, and about which we can only guess how they sounded.

Another difference with the red deer contest is that this dinosaur sound contest is for young people only.

Translated from Witte Weekblad weekly in the Netherlands:

Looking for best T. rex roar

December 5, 2013

LeidenNaturalis museum and the most popular Dutch biologist Freek Vonk along with Sony PlayStation are trying to find the person with the most terrifying T. rex roar. On the site tientjevoortrex.nl children until 16 December can submit their version of a T. rex roar and have a chance to participate in the finals on Saturday, December 21 at Naturalis museum in Leiden. In this way, Naturalis calls attention to the T. Rex unearthed in Montana which they want to bring to the Netherlands.

Led by Freek Vonk, the ten best players will roar against each other between the real dinosaur skeletons during the finals on December 21, 2013 at Naturalis museum. The jury, including dinosaur expert Anne Ripper, will judge the roaring. The winner will take home a gigantic PlayStation 3 prize with of course the game Wonder Book: Walking With Dinosaurs. There will be on that day a PlayStation Game Lounge as well, where visitors will be able to try out this game.

France: Not only just any dinosaur. As you quietly walk without bothering anyone on one of your morning ballades in the city magique, suddenly it appears — not out of the corner of your eye, but smack flat across your entire vision field — a life-size replica of the scarily famous Tyrannosaurus-Rex. Certainly more frightening when it was full of fleas (fleas?), teeth and fur, but now just lying in state in the most beautiful of locations, on the bank of the river Seine, in Paris: here.

Oviraptor dinosaur discovery in Montana, USA


This video is called Dinosaurs Alive: Two Velociraptors Versus An Oviraptor.

From Associated Press today:

Crews make rare dinosaur find in Montana

Federal officials say paleontology crews in southeastern Montana excavated the remains of a dinosaur rarely found in North America.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials say crews from Illinois’ Burpee Museum of Natural History found the bones of an oviraptorosaur (oh-vih-rap-TOR’-ah-sohr) on BLM land near Ekalaka in July.

The ostrich-like dinosaur was a meat-eater with a beak like a parrot. BLM officials said in a recent statement that most complete oviraptorosaur specimens have been found in Asia, and North American finds are exceptionally rare.

BLM officials say about 40 bones were collected in the Hell Creek Formation in Carter County, and the rest of the skeleton remains covered in the hillside.

Scott Williams of the Burpee museum says the dinosaur nicknamed “Pearl” is probably at least 5 or 6 feet tall.

Tyrannosaurus rex to museum by crowdfunding?


This Dutch video is about discovering Tyrannosaurus rex fossils in Montana, USA.

Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden in the Netherlands writes (translated):

Help us to get the T. rex to the Netherlands!

In Montana, U.S.A., we made an incredible discovery: we unearthed a Tyrannosaurus rex! We desperately want to get this huge fearsome carnivore to the Netherlands. That might be a small step for Tyrannosaurus rex, but a huge step for us. Because that would make Naturalis the only museum outside North America where people can see this legend. An individual of this species is probably worth its weight in ten euro notes, so we need a lot of money. Will you help us?

This Dutch video is about the start of the crowdfunding campaign to buy the Tyrannosaurus rex.

In Images: A Baby Dinosaur Unearthed: here.

New carnivorous dinosaur discovery in Utah, USA


This video from the USA is called Siats – The New Mega-predatory Dinosaur.

From the North Carolina State University in the USA:

Colossal New Predatory Dino Terrorized Early Tyrannosaurs

For Immediate Release

Tracey Peake

Release Date: 11.22.13

A new species of carnivorous dinosaur – one of the three largest ever discovered in North America – lived alongside and competed with small-bodied tyrannosaurs 98 million years ago. This newly discovered species, Siats meekerorum, (pronounced see-atch) was the apex predator of its time, and kept tyrannosaurs from assuming top predator roles for millions of years.

Named after a cannibalistic man-eating monster from Ute tribal legend, Siats is a species of carcharodontosaur, a group of giant meat-eaters that includes some of the largest predatory dinosaurs ever discovered. The only other carcharodontosaur known from North America is Acrocanthosaurus, which roamed eastern North America more than 10 million years earlier. Siats is only the second carcharodontosaur ever discovered in North America; Acrocanthosaurus, discovered in 1950, was the first.

“It’s been 63 years since a predator of this size has been named from North America,” says Lindsay Zanno, a North Carolina State University paleontologist with a joint appointment at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and lead author of a Nature Communications paper describing the find. “You can’t imagine how thrilled we were to see the bones of this behemoth poking out of the hillside.”

Zanno and colleague Peter Makovicky, from Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, discovered the partial skeleton of the new predator in Utah’s Cedar Mountain Formation in 2008. The species name acknowledges the Meeker family for its support of early career paleontologists at the Field Museum, including Zanno.

The recovered specimen belonged to an individual that would have been more than 30 feet long and weighed at least four tons. Despite its giant size, these bones are from a juvenile. Zanno and Makovicky theorize that an adult Siats might have reached the size of Acrocanthosaurus, meaning the two species vie for the second largest predator ever discovered in North America. Tyrannosaurus rex, which holds first place, came along 30 million years later and weighed in at more than twice that amount.

Although Siats and Acrocanthosaurus are both carcharodontosaurs, they belong to different sub-groups. Siats is a member of Neovenatoridae, a more slender-bodied group of carcharodontosaurs. Neovenatorids have been found in Europe, South America, China, Japan and Australia. However, this is the first time a neovenatorid has ever been found in North America.

Siats terrorized what is now Utah during the Late Cretaceous period (100 million years ago to 66 million years ago). It was previously unknown who the top meat-eater was in North America during this period. “Carcharodontosaurs reigned for much longer in North America than we expected,” says Zanno. In fact, Siats fills a gap of more than 30 million years in the fossil record, during which time the top predator role changed hands from carcharodontosaurs in the Early Cretaceous to tyrannosaurs in the Late Cretaceous.

The lack of fossils left paleontologists unsure about when this change happened and if tyrannosaurs outcompeted carcharodontosaurs, or were simply able to assume apex predator roles following carcharodontosaur extinction. It is now clear that Siats’ large size would have prevented smaller tyrannosaurs from taking their place atop the food chain.

“The huge size difference certainly suggests that tyrannosaurs were held in check by carcharodontosaurs, and only evolved into enormous apex predators after the carcharodontosaurs disappeared,” says Makovicky. Zanno adds, “Contemporary tyrannosaurs would have been no more than a nuisance to Siats, like jackals at a lion kill. It wasn’t until carcharodontosaurs bowed out that the stage could be set for the evolution of T. rex.”

At the time Siats reigned, the landscape was lush, with abundant vegetation and water supporting a variety of plant-eating dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles, and giant lungfish. Other predators inhabited this ecosystem, including early tyrannosaurs and several species of other feathered dinosaurs that have yet to be described by the team. “We have made more exciting discoveries including two new species of dinosaur,” Makovicky says.

“Stay tuned,” adds Zanno. “There are a lot more cool critters where Siats came from.”

All fieldwork was conducted under permits through the Bureau of Land Management and funded by the Field Museum. Research was funded by North Carolina State University, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the Field Museum.

-peake-

Note to editors: Abstract of the paper follows.

“Neovenatorid theropods are apex predators in the Late Cretaceous of North America”

Authors: Lindsay E. Zanno, Department of Biology, North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences; Peter J. Makovicky, Department of Geology, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago
Published: Nov. 22, 2013 in Nature Communications

Abstract:

Allosauroid theropods were a diverse and widespread radiation of Jurassic-Cretaceous megapredators. Achieving some of the largest body sizes among theropod dinosaurs, these colossal hunters dominated terrestrial ecosystems until a faunal turnover redefined apex predator guild occupancy during the final 20 million years of the Cretaceous.

Here we describe a giant new species of allosauroid—Siats meekerorum gen. et sp. nov.—providing the first evidence for the cosmopolitan clade Neovenatoridae in North America. Siats is the youngest allosauroid yet discovered from the continent and demonstrates that the clade endured there into the Late Cretaceous. The discovery provides new evidence for ecologic sympatry of large allosauroids and small-bodied tyrannosauroids. These data support the hypothesis that extinction of Allosauroidea in terrestrial ecosystems of North America permitted ecological release of tyrannosauroids, which went on to dominate end Cretaceous food webs.

See also here.

Photos: New dinosaur discovered: here.

Deinocheirus dinosaur discoveries in Mongolia


This South Korean TV video is called Finding gastralia of Deinocheirus – The Land of Dinosaurs, #16.

From New Scientist:

Is it a sloth? Is it a camel? No, it’s a dinosaur

16:49 18 November 2013 by Jeff Hecht

A hug with Deinocheirus would have been a memorable experience. Its 2.4-metre-long arms and 20-centimetre claws were all that was unearthed of this dinosaur from Mongolia‘s Gobi desert in 1965. Recent fossil finds are now filling in our image of what the dino-beast, which lived 70 million years ago, might have looked like.

Two skeletons, also from the Gobi desert, show Deinocheirus was an ornithomimosaur – a group mostly composed of small and nimble ostrich-like dinosaurs.

But this was no mini-dino. “The animal is as big as Tarbosaurus,” says Philip Currie of the University of Alberta in Canada, referring to a massive tyrannosaurid that is likely to have coexisted with Deinocheirus.

Currie was part of the team that excavated the skeletons. They show that the beast was 11 to 12 metres long and a cousin of T. rex with enormous spines on its lower back and tail that may have formed part of a huge sail or hump, making it look like a strange bipedal camel. At the other end, Deinocheirus had a long, ostrich-like neck that reached high into the trees – higher even than the sauropods did.

Armed and dangerous?

Sadly, poachers stole the skull, hands and feet of the skeletons, so we still don’t know what the beast’s head looked like. But Curries says it probably ate plants and swallowed rocks to help digestion – more than 1000 stomach stones, or gastroliths, were found with the skeletons.

And those enormous arms and impressive claws? You could be forgiven for thinking they were fearsome weapons, but their real purpose was probably a little more tame. “Deinocheirus claws were not for hooking into flesh,” says Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland in College Park. They were too blunt for that. Rather, the huge limbs remind Holtz of giant ground sloths, meaning the claws might have been for digging or grabbing onto trees.

Currie agrees. The proportions of the limbs suggest Deinocheirus was slow-moving, he says, and the creature may have used its long arms to pull down high branches to feed on.

So now you know. Deinocheirus had the curved hump of a camel, long neck of an ostrich, huge but blunt claws of giant ground sloth – and a monstrous hug.

Yuong-Nam Lee of the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources presented the latest finds on 1 November at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting in Los Angeles.

Tyrannosaurus rex ancestor discovery in Utah


Skeletal reconstructions and postcranial elements of Utah tyrannosaurs. (A) Skeletal outlines showing recovered elements of Lythronax argestes (UMNH VP 20200) and (B) Teratophoneus curriei (UMNH VP 16690). Selected postcranial elements of Teratophoneus in left lateral view: (C) cervical vertebra 3; (D) cervical vertebra 9; (E–G) three caudal vertebrae; (H) right ilium (photoreversed with left illium in the background in grayscale); (I) pubis; (J) ischium; (K) right femur in lateral view; (L) right tibia in anterior view; and (M) right fibula in medial view. Elements of Lythronax figured include: (N) the left pubis in lateral view; (O), left tibia in anterior view (photoreversed); and (P) left fibula in medial view (photoreversed). Scale bar for a and b is 1 meter, c-g 5 cm and h-p 10 cm. Abbreviations: ac, acetabulum; af, astragalar facet; bf, brevis fossa; cc, cnemial crest; dp, diapophysis; ep, epipophysis; ff, fibular flange; ffa, fibular facet; ft, fourth trochanter; if, iliofibularis muscle scar; ip, ischial peduncle; lt, lesser trochanter; mff, fibular fossa; ns, neural spine; of, obturator flange; pa, parapophysis; pb, pubic boot; pc, pleurocoel; pp, pubic peduncle; poz, postzygapophysis; prz, prezygapophysis; sac, supraacetabular crest; sar, supraacetabular ridge; tp, transverse process

From PLOS ONE:

Tyrant Dinosaur Evolution Tracks the Rise and Fall of Late Cretaceous Oceans

Mark A. Loewen,

Randall B. Irmis,

Joseph J. W. Sertich,

Philip J. Currie,

Scott D. Sampson

Abstract

The Late Cretaceous (~95–66 million years ago) western North American landmass of Laramidia displayed heightened non-marine vertebrate diversity and intracontinental regionalism relative to other latest Cretaceous Laurasian ecosystems. Processes generating these patterns during this interval remain poorly understood despite their presumed role in the diversification of many clades.

Tyrannosauridae, a clade of large-bodied theropod dinosaurs restricted to the Late Cretaceous of Laramidia and Asia, represents an ideal group for investigating Laramidian patterns of evolution. We use new tyrannosaurid discoveries from Utah—including a new taxon which represents the geologically oldest member of the clade—to investigate the evolution and biogeography of Tyrannosauridae. These data suggest a Laramidian origin for Tyrannosauridae, and implicate sea-level related controls in the isolation, diversification, and dispersal of this and many other Late Cretaceous vertebrate clades. …

Work in the Kaiparowits Basin of southern Utah has recovered abundant new fossils critical for testing such patterns, including the oldest-known tyrannosaurid and the most complete tyrannosaurid specimen discovered from southern Laramidia (Fig. 1). The phylogenetic and biogeographic implications of the new taxon from the Wahweap Formation (~80 Ma), together with a nearly complete skeleton of the poorly understood Teratophoneus curriei [13] from the overlying Kaiparowits Formation (~76 Ma), are examined in the context of the isolation and dispersal of Laramidian vertebrates during the latest Cretaceous.

Mongolian dinosaurs’ eggs discovery


This video is called Walking with Dinosaurs: Therizinosaurus.

Several egg clutches, like this one, were found in Mongolia. Credit: Yoshitsugu Kobayashi

From LiveScience:

Nests of Big-Clawed Dinosaurs Found in Mongolia

By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer   |   November 02, 2013 12:52pm ET

LOS ANGELES — A nursery of bizarre-looking dinosaurs known as therizinosaurs has been found in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.

The nesting colony contained at least 17 clutches of eggs.

“Not only is this the largest colony of nonavian theropods, but this is the best documented site,” said study co-author Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, a vertebrate paleontologist at Hokkaido University in Japan, who presented the findings here at the 73rd annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology conference.

Oddball dinos

Therizinosaurs, which lived about 70 million years ago, sported huge, round guts; stumpy legs; a long neck; and a turtlelike head and beak.

Despite being members of the carnivorous group known as theropods — which includes the deadly king of the predators Tyrannosaurus rex — the waddling dinosaurs were herbivores. They also had enormous Edward Scissorhands-like, three-digit claws that may have been used to grasp branches and scrape up plant material, similar to the way bamboo-eating pandas do today.

Kobayashi and his colleagues discovered the nest while in southeastern Mongolia in 2011. On the last day of their trip, they decided to leave the area they were excavating known for therizinosaur bones to instead examine another bone bed nearby.

“There aren’t many bones from this formation, so we didn’t expect to find anything good,” Kobayashi told LiveScience.

As the sun was setting, a guide pointed out an eggshell, and the team soon found one nest site right next to their car. Further investigation revealed four more nest sites. The following year, they returned and excavated a total of 17 clutches, for a total of about 75 eggs.

Hatched youngsters

The eggs were round, with about a 5-inch (13 centimeters) diameter and rough outer shells. Based on size analysis and the species found in nearby areas, the team concluded that therizinosaurs laid the eggs. The animals would have been about 220 lbs. (99 kilograms) when full-grown.

None of the eggs harbored dinosaur embryos. However, many of them had holes with eggshells inside, as if a baby dinosaur had poked a hole in the top of the egg and the broken shells had fallen back inside. The presence of eggshells inside the eggs suggested that most of the baby dinosaurs had hatched.

That finding, in turn, indicated the adults must have guarded the eggs to protect them from predators, Kobayashi said.

Communal animals

The finding bolsters the notion that therizinosaurs were social animals that hung out together.

“We have some very intriguing evidence of mass congregation in therizinosaurs,” said Lindsay Zanno, director of the paleontology and geology research laboratory at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

“We have several mass-death quarries,” said Zanno, who was not involved in the study. “So the question for us is, what does that represent in terms of their ecology? Did they live in herds, or were they gathering periodically?”

The new finding suggests the animals at least gathered together for nesting, Zanno told LiveScience.

Mosasaur fossil discovery in Angola


The fossilized skeleton of a mosasaur with the bones of three other species of mosasaur in its gut. The marine monster likely scavenged upon carcasses brought to the west coast of Africa by trade winds. Credit: Michael Polcyn

From LiveScience:

DENVER — The mosasaur, a fearsome marine reptile that stalked the Cretaceous seas, scavenged its own kin, a new fossil find reveals.

A fossilized mosasaur found in Angola contains the partial remains of three other mosasaurs in its stomach, researchers reported here Tuesday (Oct. 29) at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

“These are three different species of mosasaur inside the belly of a fourth species of mosasaur,” said study researcher Louis Jacobs, a vertebrate paleontologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas. [T-Rex of the Seas: A Mosasaur Gallery]

The find isn’t the first example of mosasaurs digesting mosasaurs, but it illuminates an ancient ecosystem surprisingly similar to ones seen in parts of the ocean today.

A lean, mean, eating machine

Mosasaurs were at the top of the marine food chain from about 98 million years ago to the end of the Cretaceous 66 million years ago, when they went extinct. As is the case for modern whales, the first mosasaur ancestors were land-dwellers. They looked not unlike today’s monitor lizards, said study researcher Michael Polcyn, also a vertebrate paleontologist at Southern Methodist University.

“By the time they’re in the water maybe 10 million years, they’ve fully adapted to the marine environment — so a downturned tail with a dorsal fluke and fins — and they were really making their living like a toothed whale,” Polcyn told LiveScience.

In other words, mosasaurs were as fearsome predators as today’s orcas, but with reptilian, fishlike bodies that could grow to more than 30 feet (9 meters) in length.

A rich ecosystem

The mosasaur with a belly full of other mosasaurs was found at a site called Bentiaba in southern Angola. The fossils are embedded in sandstone cliffs and badlands along the Atlantic coast. During the Cretaceous, this area was just offshore from Africa.

“The incredible richness of the site continues to amaze us,” Polcyn said. “Each year we return, there is another significant discovery.”

The researchers first discovered the hungry, hungry mosasaur, a species called (Prognathodon kianda), in 2006, but weren’t able to excavate it until 2010. That’s when they realized the fossil record also recorded the mosasaur’s last meal.

The mosasaurs inside the belly are clearly digested, with their tooth enamel eaten away by stomach acid. One is small and eaten whole, but the other two are incomplete, mostly represented by skulls and vertebrae — “not the most nutritious and tasty stuff that you would eat,” Jacobs said. The evidence points to the large mosasaur as a scavenger, snacking on the corpses of dead mosasaurs brought to the area by the currents.

Mosasaur jaw and teeth. What big teeth you have! The jaw of the mosasaur Prognathodon kianda. Credit: Michael Polcyn

The mosasaurs are only part of the story. Paleontologists digging at the site have already uncovered seven mosasaur species, two plesiosaurs, nine sharks and rays, four kinds of turtles and many fish. Virtually all the bones show evidence of scavenging by sharks.

The ecosystem likely owed its richness to the trade winds, prevailing winds that blow between 15 degrees and 30 degrees North and South latitude. At the time, this stretch of coast fell squarely under the influence of these winds, Polcyn said. The winds drive ocean currents that cause upwelling, the circulation of nutrient-rich bottom waters up to the ocean’s surface. Such upwelling zones have robust food chains, starting from plankton and ending with large predators. The currents also would have pushed floating carcasses toward shore, Polcyn said.

Rich upwelling zones are common in the oceans today, including a spot off of Monterey, Calif., known for its sea otters and other fauna; a stretch of sea off the Atacama Desert in western South America; and the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem off the coast of Namibia.

The Benguela ecosystem is fueled by the same atmospheric processes that drove the mid-Cretaceous hotspot of life, Polcyn said. The continent of Africa has moved and rotated just slightly over the intervening millions of years, shifting the relative location of the upwelling.

The mosasaur specimen with a full belly is still being prepared by fossil technicians. Researchers have also uncovered other ancient beasts with creatures in their gut at the site, Polcyn said, and they plan to analyze those finds further.

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.