Ancient Mosasaur Lizard Gave Birth In Open Sea

The Mosasaur lizard was a massive prehistoric marine animal that could travel through the oceans gobbling up its prey during the prehistoric Cretaceous period. The giant lizard grew to about 50-feet long and lived about 60- to 65-million years ago. It was believed to be one of the top predators of its day.

The prehistoric Mosasaur lizard was known to be an air breather, as well as a very strong swimmer. Their body was shaped like today’s monitor lizard, but slightly longer and thinner and with paddles instead of feet and a fluke-like tail. It was well designed to travel the prehistoric oceans quickly and effectively to chase its prey.

These huge marine creatures have been well studied, but there still remained a big mystery about the way the Mosasaur lizard gave birth to its young. Paleontologists were not sure whether or not it laid eggs and perhaps buried them in the sand near the sea like a turtle, or if the baby mosasaur lizards were born alive in the deep ocean like whales or dolphins.

Study Showed Prehistoric Mosasaur Lizard Born in Ocean

Now, after much study on the topic, the scientists have determined that the gigantic Mosasaur lizard didn’t travel on land to lay eggs, but instead gave birth live in the deep ocean waters. The study on this topic was printed in the Paleontology journal and the lead author was Daniel Field, a doctoral candidate from the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale.

Part of Field’s study was his examination of specimens at the Yale Peabody Museum. The specimens were located more than a hundred years ago, but had been thought to be some form of prehistoric sea bird because of their size. However, Field and his colleague, Aaron LeBlanc, a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, both determined that it was a baby Mosasaur lizard due to its teeth and jaw makeup.

Baby Mosasaur Lizard Not Like Baby Sea Turtles

The location where the Peabody specimens were found would have been an open ocean during the Cretaceous period. Determining that they were small versions of the larger Mosasaur indicates that the baby Mosasaur was born in the open waters. Therefore, it is believed that they did not come from eggs on land like today’s sea turtles that must travel into the ocean after they emerge from their eggs laid in the sand.

This discovery by Fields and LaBlanc is a great step forward in understanding the life of the Mosasaur lizard and shows that there is still much to learn about early life on Earth.

Summer fun by the seas in Croata where a Sea Turtle Rescue Centre resides: