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What they found was the fossil of a huge jaw. It was
discovered in the valley of the River Meuse, in
Holland. Because of this, the animal was called "Meuse
lizard", or Mosasaurus, and gave its name to the
family group. It was a french scientist named Georges
Cuvier who decided that the jaw belonged to a sea
creature that was no longer alive. Cuvier was one of
the first people to suggest that species died out. We
now know that different kind of animals die out all
the time, but in those days some scientists thought
that this was nonsence. Since the discovery in Holland
all those years ago, many other mosasaur fossils have
been found across the world. It now seems likely that
mosasaurs ruled the Late Cretaceous seas of modern-day
North America, Africa, and New Zealand, as well as
Europe. These world-wide finds have meant that experts
have been able to put together a detailed picture of
how mosasaurs lived. Mosasaurus had about 100
backbones- four times as many as a human. Each
vertebrae was joined to the next by a flexible
ball-and-socket joint, allowing Mosasaurus to move in
the water like eels. Like other mosasaurs, Mosasaurus
had special jaws. Half way along its lower jaw and
extra joint. This let it expand its jaws to cope with
big mouthfuls of food. Its lower jaw not only dropped
lower, but moved out sideways too. This meant that
Mosasaurus rarely bit off more than it could chew.
Monitor lizards and snakes still have this special jaw
hinge. Snakes can swallow mice and rats in one go.
Bedded into these special jaws were rows of teeth that
curved backwards. They were sharp enough to cut
through any fish that Mosasaurus caught. As one tooth
wore down another grew in its place, just like sharks'
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