The fossilised remains of a 36ft-long prehistoric sea beast have been found 700 miles from the nearest ocean.
Found at the Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada, by a local resident, palaeontologists discovered the head of the Prognathodon a few months ago when the dig site was expanded.
Ryan McKellar, curator of palaeontology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, said: “The Prognathodon was a very robust marine reptile.
"It was thought to have been living around 65 million years ago. It had an oversized head and a total body length approaching that of a Tyrannosaurus rex.
“It also had a tooth shape and size very similar to this dinosaur, likely because the unusual mixture of cutting and crushing required for its feeding strategy placed similar demands on the teeth.
“To put this into context, modern killer whales have teeth about 7.5 cm long,
“In addition to the crushing teeth in the jaws, Prognathodon also had a series of teeth protruding from the surface of its palate that were about 5 cm long.
“These spikes held prey in place as food was ratcheted into the mouth.”
The location of the fossil might seem odd, given how far away it is from the nearest ocean, however experts have said that the now-dried up Western Interior Seaway actually covered the area, stretching from what is now the Gulf of Mexico up to the Arctic Ocean.
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Dr McKellar has also hinted that the fossil might actually come from a previously-undiscovered species of Prognathodon, which is currently being investigated.
The dig has so fare found the majority of the skull, most of the neck, and a few bones from further back in the skeleton.
The skull measures an astonishing 130cm long.
Dr McKellar added: “We were pleasantly surprised to find most of the front of the skull was preserved, and additional bones are running into the hillside.”
The newly-excavated fossil is expected to be part of an upcoming exhibition at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.
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