August 29, 2008

80-Million-Year-Old Fossil Unearthed in Western Canada

A 11-meter-long fossil estimated to be 80 million years old has been unearthed in western Canada, scientists announced Thursday.

Canadian Fossil Discovery Center said the ancient sea creature, unearthed Wednesday at a site in Morden in Manitoba province, has been the biggest fossil find in the province in nearly 30 years.

The mosasaur, dubbed Angus, is the second important discovery by the center in Manitoba. A 13-meter-long specimen named Bruce was found in 1974 near just south of where Angus was located. Bruce's fossils and a full-scale reproduction of him are now on display in the center's museum.

This summer's dig also uncovered what is described as a "death assemblage," a collection of bones from different species, all in the same area.

"That's pretty rare to find them all together. We've got a tooth from a shark, [more] mosasaur bones, fish bones, at least two different species of fish, plesiosaur bones, as well as some bird bones," said center curator Anita-Marie Janzic.

Mosasaurs were air-breathing, scaly skinned, flesh-eating lizards that swam in an inland sea during the Cretaceous Period, between 65 million and 135 million years ago. While they resemble modern alligators, the monitor lizard of Asia and Africa is considered its closest living relative.

They were named after the Meurse River in Europe, near where the first mosasaur discoveries were made.

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