Titanoboa, meaning "titanic boa", is an extinctgenus of snake that lived approximately 60 to 58 million years ago, during the Paleocene epoch, (approximately 60-58 million years ago) a 10-million-year period immediately following the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event that wiped out the majority of terrestrial life, including the dinosaurs. After the mass extinction event, Titanoboa was, for the majority of the Paleoceneepoch, the largest non-marine vertebrate. It is the largest snake ever discovered at an estimated 43 feet long, and to date, paleontologists have identified about 180 different bones, mainly vertebrae and costae (rib bones) belonging to 28 individual specimens from a cache of fossils excavated from El Cerrejon coal mine in northern Colombia. The prepped fossils were later revealed in early 2007 at the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, Florida. However, this is not the first occurence of large snake fossils that have been discovered in South America before. An example would be Madtsoia bai, a huge constrictor known from fossils discovered in Argentina in the mid 1930s. This particular species was believed to be up to 12 meters long, huge by modern snake standards but still 20% smaller than Titanoboa. (Read more...)
... that Irritator is only known from a skull that was badly obscured by plaster which was added by the commercial fossil-collecting fossil-poachers who illegally sold it in hopes of making the fossil look more complete and valuable?
... that rhynchosaurs had unique teeth that were modified into broad tooth plates?
... that a trackway produced by an unknown crocodyliform that measured approximately 12 meters in length was uncovered in the Galve region of Spain?
"A fossil hunter needs sharp eyes and a keen search image, a mental template that subconsciously evaluates everything he sees in his search for telltale clues. A kind of mental radar works even if he isn't concentrating hard. A fossil mollusk expert has a mollusk search image. A fossil antelope expert has an antelope search image. ... Yet even when one has a good internal radar, the search is incredibly more difficult than it sounds. Not only are fossils often the same color as the rocks among which they are found, so they blend in with the background; they are also usually broken into odd-shaped fragments. ... In our business, we don't expect to find a whole skull lying on the surface staring up at us. The typical find is a small piece of petrified bone. The fossil hunter's search therefore has to have an infinite number of dimensions, matching every conceivable angle of every shape of fragment of every bone on the human body."
Ichthyosaurs were giant marine reptiles that resembled fish and dolphins. Ichthyosaurs thrived during much of the Mesozoicera; based on fossil evidence, they first appeared approximately 245 million years ago (mya) and disappeared about 90 million years ago, about 25 million years before the dinosaurs became extinct. During the Middle TriassicPeriod, ichthyosaurs evolved from as-yet unidentified land reptiles that moved back into the water, in a development parallel to that of modern-day dolphins and whales. Ichthyosaurs were particularly abundant in the Jurassic Period, until they were replaced as the top aquatic predators by plesiosaurs in the Cretaceous Period. Ichthyosaurs averaged two to four meters in length (although a few were smaller, and some species grew much larger), with a porpoise-like head and a long, toothed snout. Ichthyosaur fossils have been found on every continent except Africa and Antarctica (other researchers reported finding possible ichthyosaur teeth in Antarctica, but they weren't enough to convince most paleontologists). They belong to the order known as Ichthyosauria or Ichthyopterygia ('fish flippers' - a designation introduced by Sir Richard Owen in 1840, although the term is now used more for the parent clade of the Ichthyosauria).