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Mosasaur

Mosasaurs are reptiles of the Mosasauridae family, which in turn belongs to the order of Squamata, which includes lizards and snakes. 'Mosa' stands for 'Maas', a reference to the river near the location where the first fossil of this group found in 1766 in Maastricht, The Netherlands. This piece is on display at the Teyler Museum in Haarlem, The Netherlands.

Perhaps the best-known and the most notorious mosasaur fossil, is a nearly complete skull which was excavated in the St. Pietersberg, and later became the holotype of Mosasaurus hoffmani. This piece was looted by the French and in now housed in Paris.

Discovery of the holotype Mosasaurus hoffmani, engraving of Levillaire.

During the Maastrichtian (part of the Cretaceousperiod) most Mosasaurs were among the top predators in the former seas and oceans. The overall construction was quite long and slender with four flippers and a swimming tail. Locomotion was done with lateral swimming movements. There are several genera described, all over the world. The size varies, but most were more than ten meters long. Mosasaurs became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period. In the Maastrichtian limestone of northern Europe mosasaur remains are found regularly. Loose teeth and bone are the most common. Several bones together are very rare. In phosphate deposits of Khouribga in Morocco mosasaurs also are common.

In 1998, a partial skeleton of a Mosasaur was discovered in the ENCI quarry, The Netherlands. The animal turned out to be eaten by sharks after his death. The skull and some vertebrae of the mosasaur called Bèr is kept at the Natural History Museum in Maastricht, The Netherlands. Bèr was described as a new species: Prognathodon saturator.

In 2012 another mosasaur was found at this quarry and was named "Carlo" after its discoverer.


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