Scientists in the vast Atacama desert in Chile have uncovered the remains of one of the largest and most daunting marine predators to patrol the Earth’s oceans — dating all the way back to some 160 million years ago.
The Atacama is the driest desert in the world, a moonscape of sand and stone.
But once, it was largely submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean.
According to researchers who found the fossils there, they once belonged to ancient reptiles called pliosaurs — predators with a more powerful bite than the Tyrannosaurus rex.
Paleontologist Rodrigo Otero led the research project.
“Pliosaurs were marine reptiles with heads similar to those of modern crocodiles with short and very robust necks, an aerodynamic body and athletically-adapted limbs. These reptiles could reach large sizes and some specimens have been found with over two-meter-long skulls.”
Otero says the find helps scientists fill gaps in time and evolution