5.9" Rooted Mosasaur (Prognathodon) Tooth With Fish Verts

 
 
This is a really cool specimen from the phosphate deposits in the Oulad Abdoun Basin of Morocco. There is a large, 5.9" long, naturally rooted Mosasaur (Prognathodon sp) tooth with a dense cluster of about a dozen fossil fish vertebrae behind it.

The preparation on this piece was done in the US and really highlights the fossils. The tooth as well as many of the vertebrae have been brought out in high relief against the rock. The fish verts are visible once you look at the back of the specimen. No restoration on this piece.

Mosasaurs are a family of enormous marine reptiles that truly dominated the seas 90 million years ago. They ruled during the last 20-25 million years of the Cretaceous period. With the extinction of the ichthyosaurs and decline of plesiosaurs, mosasaurs diversified to become prolific apex predators in nearly every habitat of the oceanic world.

Artists reconstruction of the mosasaur Prognathodon saturator.
Artists reconstruction of the mosasaur Prognathodon saturator.


Larger mosasaurs were the great leviathans of their time, extending 10–15m, or 33–49ft long. Hainosaurus holds the record for longest mosasaur, at a seemingly impossible 57ft. The smaller genera were still an impressive 10–20ft long. Mosasaurs probably evolved from semi-aquatic scaled reptiles which were more similar in appearance to modern-day monitor lizards. They had double-hinged jaws and flexible skulls (much like that of a snake) which enabled them to gulp down their prey almost whole.

The gruesome unchewed contents of fossilized mosasaur guts have revealed a varied diet of sea birds, ammonites, smaller marine lizards, possibly shark, and even other mosasaurs. Ammonites were especially crunchy mosasaur treats. They were abundant in the Cretaceous sea, and some Mosasaurs had specialized teeth for the job.



Mosasaurs probably lurked for an ambush, rather than hunt, possibly using their powerful tail flukes for extra thrust to dart out and swallow unsuspecting prey. Non-reflective, keeled scales may have been a great advantage to the Mosasaur sneak-attack.

Mosasaurs breathed air and gave birth to live young. The bronchi leading to the lungs run parallel to each other instead of splitting apart from one another as in monitors and other terrestrial reptiles. They were well-adapted to living in the warm, shallow, epicontinental seas of the period.

Although Mosasaurs diversified and proliferated at a spectacular rate, their specialization is considered the source of their demise when marine systems collapsed at the end of the Cretaceous.

It comes from the massive phosphate deposits in the Oulad Abdoun Basin near Khouribga, Morocco. These deposits are mined for phosphate, one of Moroccos biggest exports. The fossils are collected as a byproduct of the mining operations, saving them from certain destruction by the rock crusher.
DETAILS
SPECIES
Prognathodon sp.
LOCATION
Oulad Abdoun Basin, Morocco
FORMATION
Phosphate Deposits
SIZE
5.9" tooth
ITEM
#150158
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