A team of paleontologists has identified a new species of dinosaur in Morocco. Classified under the name of Gavialimimus almagribensis, the new mosasaur species roamed the in-land seas more than 66 million years ago and preyed fish.
The discovery is based on fossils that were uncovered in Morocco. More than 12 different mosasaur species have been discovered in the country. Mosasaurs breathed air and could reach lengths of up to approximately 16.7 meters or 55 feet. A fish-based died allowed them to prosper in a competitive ecosystem.
One of the most interesting traits of the Gavialimimus is the snout, which is elongated and quite similar to that of a crocodile. The specific shape of the snout made the species an excellent niche predator that could enjoy a substantial amount of prey. Razor-sharp teeth allowed the creature to catch fish easily.
With the help of the new information, researchers can understand how many mega-predators have managed to survive in limited habitats, with in-land seas being one example. Individual species of mosasaurs evolved in specific ways that allowed them to target specific prey.
Another mosasaur species, Globidens simplex, featured rounded teeth, which favored the ability to consume shelled prey. In most cases, the adaptations aren’t fully specialized, and more than one mosasaur species might prefer the same prey, but in most cases, a niche tendency has been observed.
Such information proves that diversity was a key factor in the evolution of dinosaurs, favoring the appearance of different species. Morocco is a prime site for fossils, especially in areas where phosphate mines are present. Areas where phosphates can be found contain sediments which formed in marine environments, an excellent hunting ground for mosasaurs. Many experts in the field were surprised by the new data.
The study has been published in a scientific journal.