A type of seagoing lizard called a mosasaur that ruled the oceans at the same time dinosaurs dominated the land, it has now been given a name meaning “Jaws of Death.”
A new analysis published on Wednesday of fossils of the creature unearthed in 1975 has determined that it deserves to be recognized as a new genus of mosasaur based on skeletal traits including a unique combination of features in the tooth-bearing bones and the shape of an important bone in the jaw joint.
Its remains were discovered near Cedaredge, Colorado.
This Cretaceous Period creature previously had been classified as the species Prognathodon stadtmani. Because of its differences from other species of Prognathodon, Joshua Lively, curator of paleontology at the Utah State University Eastern Prehistoric Museum, gave it the new scientific name Gnathomortis stadtmani.
Gnathomortis is derived from the Greek and Latin words for “Jaws of Death.”