The unusual discovery at Kem Kem beach – Morocco’s “monster river” – could change the history of paleontology.
Although many prehistoric monsters have been found in this river system, scientists did not expect to find a fossil of a plesiosaurs. Because they belong to the ocean.
Therefore, research led by paleontologist Nick Longrich from the University of Bath (UK) could completely disrupt the definition of snake-headed lizard, when it identifies two freshwater specimens in the main Kem Kem. is a famous long-necked “sea reptile”.
According to Sci-News, snake-headed lizards existed on the planet from 235 million to 66 million years ago, ie living in all three Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Their fossils are found on every continent, most commonly Australia, Europe and North America. But there have never been any freshwater specimens.
They are distinguished by an unusually long neck compared to their body and four legs developed like oars to be suitable for life in the water. The famous “Loch Ness Monster” is often described as resembling a snake-headed lizard.
Going back to the Kem Kem specimens, they include the bones and teeth of an adult 3 m long and the forelimbs of a 1.5 m long. “It’s trifling, but these individual bones tell us a lot about the ecosystem and the ancient animals in it,” said Dr Longrich.
Bones and teeth were found scattered in very distant regions along the Kem Kem river system, suggesting that this organism may have been widespread throughout the system. During the hunt, they also found fossils of more than a dozen other prehistoric monsters, including the “water dinosaur” Spinosaurus, an amphibian.
The authors say they still cannot explain why this sea monster is in fresh water, but the phenomenon of marine life invading freshwater is not without precedent.
The study has just been published in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research.