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Deinosuchus hatcheri

Deinosuchus is an extinct relative of the alligator that lived 80 to 73 Ma (million years ago), during the Late Cretaceous period. The first remains were discovered in North Carolina in the 1850s, but it was not until 1909 that the genus was named and described. Additional fragments were discovered in the 1940s and were later incorporated into an influential, though inaccurate, skull reconstruction at the American Museum of Natural History. Knowledge of Deinosuchus remains incomplete, but better cranial material found in recent years has expanded scientific understanding of this massive predator. Although Deinosuchus was far larger than any modern crocodile or alligator—measuring up to 12 m (40 ft) and weighing up to 8.5 metric tons (9.4 short tons)—its overall appearance was fairly similar to its smaller relatives. It had large, robust teeth that were built for crushing, and its back was covered with thick semispherical osteoderms. One study indicates that Deinosuchus may have lived for up to 50 years, growing at a similar rate to that of modern crocodilians, but maintaining this growth over a much longer period of time. (Read more...)

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Paul Sereno2

Paul Sereno is an American paleontologist who is the discoverer of several new dinosaur species on several continents. He has conducted excavations at sites as varied as Inner Mongolia, Argentina, Morocco and Niger. He is a professor at the University of Chicago and a National Geographic "explorer-in-residence." Sereno's most widely publicized discovery is that of a nearly complete specimen of Sarcosuchus imperator (popularly known as SuperCroc) at Gadoufaoua in the Tenere desert of Niger. Other major discoveries include Eoraptor - the oldest known dinosaur fossil, Jobaria, the first good skull of Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, Afrovenator, Suchomimus and the African pterosaur. (Read more...)

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"Why are the bones of great fishes, and oysters and corals and various other shells and sea-snails, found on the high tops of mountains that border the sea, in the same way in which they are found in the depths of the sea?"
—Leonardo da Vinci

'Physical Geography', in The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, trans. E. MacCurdy (1938), Vol. 1, 361.

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Mounted skeleton of Platecarpus planifrons. Platecarpus (meaning "Flat wrist") is an extinct genus of aquatic lizard belonging to the mosasaur family, living around 75 million years ago during the end of the Cretaceous period. Fossils have been found in Belgium and the United States.

Like other mosasaurs, Platecarpus had a long, laterally flattened tail, steering flippers, and deadly, tooth-lined jaws. It was around 4.3 meters (14 ft) long, with half of that length being taken up by its sinuous tail. It probably swam in a snake-like fashion. Platecarpus probably fed on fish, squid, and ammonites. They were medium sized animals, reaching about 7 meters (23 ft) in length. The platecarpine mosasaurs had evolved into the very specialized plioplatecarpine group by the end of the Cretaceous.

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