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A recent study by American paleontologists suggests that mosasaurs dominated two types of swimming, one for long distances and one for short trips.
According to new findings, the mosasaurs, the enormous Cretaceous ancestors of the current lizards, furrowed the seas through a pectoral swimming technique that allowed them to sail the seas “like no other animal” of the time, suggests EurekAlert .
These marine reptiles, which could grow to 15 meters, were fast predators with a crocodile tail and a lizard head. They had two rows of sharp teeth and strong jaws, and thrived from 145 million to 65.5 million years ago.
After analyzing a plotosaurus fossil, a subspecies of mosasaurus, preserved in the National Museum of History of Los Angeles County, scientists at the University of Southern California discovered that the animal possessed huge muscles , since its shoulder girdle (the set of bones at the junction of the muscles of the upper back, chest and neck) was large enough to support a large multitude of muscle connections.
It was also discovered that the shoulder girdle was asymmetrical, suggesting that the creature made inward movements (called ‘adduction’ in anatomical terminology), that is, reducing the angle between the bones or between body parts, something that happens at Swim away water from the body.
The discovery suggests that this sea monster could use the front legs to help hit the water with the chest and move in rapid bursts.
Therefore, these dinosaurs dominated two swimming styles: one with the tail for long distances, and another that they used to hunt their prey, and in which the tail and the front legs entered into play. The latter style of swimming makes the mosasaur unique among creatures of four limbs, both living and extinct, the study indicates.