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Re: Leapin' Mosasaurs, Batman!



Nick Longrich writes:

>I have a piece of mail from Mr. Parris of the NJ state museum
>referring to a "Mother Mosasaur" w "unborn youngsters." 

I can comment on this one since I WAS THERE when they found it.

Some basics about the specimen first (since the thing has been presented, I
can spill some of the beans):  the animal (Plioplatecarpus?) is practically
complete, lying intact along a "bedding plane" (or as close to a bedding
plane as one can get, when in the Pierre Shale).  There appears to have been
little/no post-mortem scavanging, which kept all the parts in there
appropriate places,

The crutial part of this discovery is the find of very small mosasaur bones,
found near the hip region of the bigger animal.  These bones are identified
as belonging to the same species as the bigger animal.  On site analysis
showed the smaller bones to be in very good shape, showing no sign digestion
(ruling out the canabalism-theory).  Also, due to the well-articulated state
of the big animal, and the large number of the smaller bones, the
chance-occurance-theory can be dismissed.  Because of this evidence, Gorden
Bell declared this to be the first confirmed find of a mother and baby
mosasaur, and strongly suggests that this group of animals gave birth to live
young.

All this was done in the field.  The next step was to take it back to the lab
and finish preparing the specimen.  It was from this analysis that they wrote
their paper (I think it was presented at the last SVP).

Rob Meyerson
Orphan Vertebrate Paleontologist

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