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Wednesday April 24, 2024

'Nightmarish' fossil of 66-million-year old sea lizard discovered

Khinjaria Acuta belongs to family of monasaurs which are connected to today’s anacondas and Komodo dragons

By Web Desk
March 06, 2024
A reconstructed image by scientists depicting how the sea creature must have looked like 66 million years ago. — BBC via University of Bath
A reconstructed image by scientists depicting how the sea creature must have looked like 66 million years ago. — BBC via University of Bath

In a scientific marvel, a fossil of a sea lizard species named "Khinjaria Acuta" has been discovered off the coast of Morocco. It is believed to have lived 66 million years ago alongside dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex, the BBC reported.

Khinjar, meaning dagger in Arabic, and Acuta, meaning sharp in Latin, perfectly describe the species, as researcher Dr Nick Longrich from the University of Bath, who led the study published in the Journal Cretaceous Research, wrote that the creature looked "freakish" and had "a demon's face and teeth like knives."

He said that its teeth and strong jaw gave the creature a "nightmarish appearance" and "a terrible biting force."

Remains of sea lizard Khinjaria Acuta found in Morocco. — Cretaceous Research
Remains of sea lizard Khinjaria Acuta found in Morocco. — Cretaceous Research

According to researchers, the Khinjaria Acuta belongs to the family of "monasaurs," who are giant marine lizards and are connected to today’s anacondas and Komodo dragons. 

It is believed that the lizard species discovered was one of the top predators at the time it lived in the Atlantic Ocean.

As per Longrich, what makes the discovery so "remarkable is the sheer diversity of top predators."

He said, "We have multiple species growing larger than a great white shark, and they're top predators, but they all have different teeth, suggesting they're hunting in different ways.

"Some mosasaurs had teeth to pierce prey, others to cut, tear, or crush. Now we have Khinjaria, with a short face full of huge, dagger-shaped teeth."