Giant ‘sea slayer’ with massive jaw ‘ruled ocean’ 170 million years ago
A colossal sea creature with a 1.3-metre jaw, named Lorrainosaurus, rewrites history as scientists unveil an ancient megapredator from the dinosaur era
READING LEVEL: GREEN
A new Jurassic* sea creature has been identified, and it used to rule the ocean as a megapredator*.
The sea creature is named Lorrainosaurus and was alive during the dinosaur times* around 170 million years ago.
Lorrainosaurus had a 1.3-metre-long jaw and a torpedo-shaped* body.
Its jaw bone was also around 30cm.
They were a part of the pliosaur* species called Thalassophonea* which loosely translate to mean “sea slayers”.
The findings were published in the Journal of Scientific Reports on October 16.
Fossils of this amazing animal were discovered in 1983 in northeastern France, once called Lorraine.
Scientists recently re-examined these fossils using advanced techniques*. They confirmed that Lorrainosaurus belongs to the oldest group of super-predatory* pliosaurs.
There were about five fossils they re-examined including three different parts of its jaw, a tooth crown with a root, and a part of its fin.
This sea creature needed its own special spot on the pliosaur family tree because it had wider and more wedge-shaped jaw bones, making it unique.
Lorrainosaurus was part of a group of mighty sea predators. These pliosaurs were like a powerful dynasty, ruling the ancient oceans.
“Pliosaurids were the rulers of the Mesozoic seas,” co-author Daniel Madzia, a palaeontologist* with the Institute of Paleobiology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, told Live Science.
“With our animal, we are at the very beginning of a fascinating evolutionary* history that we don’t really understand yet.”
With its huge jaw, Lorrainosaurus could crush its prey easily and had its pickings when it came to its diet as other species were no match for it.
It would eat other massive sea creatures including sharks, sea turtles, other plesiosaurs, and more.
“It ate whatever it wanted to eat,” Madzia said, per Live Science.
“It was one of the largest marine predators of its time.”
This story was originally published by The Sun and is reproduced here with permission
- Jurassic: a very long time ago when dinosaurs lived
- megapredator: a really big and powerful predator
- dinosaur times: the time when dinosaurs lived on earth
- torpedo-shaped: shaped like a torpedo, which is a type of underwater missile
- pliosaur: a group of ancient carnivorous sea reptiles characterised by massive heads, short necks, and streamlined tear-shaped bodies.
- thalassophonea: a specific group of pliosaurs that became extinct during the Middle Jurassic to the start of the Late Cretaceous
- fossils: the remains of ancient animals or plants that have turned into rock
- advanced techniques: using special and modern methods
- super-predatory: very skilled at hunting
- Mesozoic: a period of Earth 252-66 million years ago, the time of the dinosaurs. This era includes the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Periods
- palaeontologist: a scientist who studies ancient creatures and plants
- evolutionary: about how animals and plants change over a very long time
- What is the name of the newly discovered sea creature from the Jurassic period?
- How long was Lorrainosaurus’s jaw?
- What group of sea creatures did Lorrainosaurus belong to?
- Where were the fossils of Lorrainosaurus discovered?
- What kind of animals did Lorrainosaurus like to eat?
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1. Lorrainosaurus caricature
Read the detailed description of this Lorrainosaurus creature in the Kids News article, and study the pictures, to enable you to sketch a caricature of this creature.
A caricature is a picture, description, or imitation of a person in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.
Use a grey lead pencil or colours to complete your caricature and share with your classmates.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Visual Arts, Personal and Social, Critical and Creative Thinking
Draw a food chain under the title of “Lorrainosaurus” of what prey this sea creature might have lived on.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science
Imagine you were present during the interview with researchers who worked to identify the Lorrainosaurus.
Create a conversation between two characters from the article – you may need to include yourself as one of the characters. Don’t forget to try to use facts and details from the article to help make your dialogue as realistic as possible.
Go through your writing and highlight any punctuation you have used in green. Make sure you carefully check the punctuation used for the dialogue and ensure you have opened and closed the speaking in the correct places.