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Huge Tooth Fossil of Dakosaurus Maximus Found by UK Scientists

Dr. Mark Young and his team from the University of Edinburgh have found a unique fossilized tooth of Dakosaurus maximus, which is thought to be a prehistoric relative of modern crocodiles. Dakosaurus maximus used to live in the shallow seas, where is now the part of Europe, in the period of the Jurassic period 150 million years ago.


A tooth of Dakosaurus maximus in lingual, labial, basal and apical view. Scale bar – 1 cm. Image credit: Mark T. Young et al.

With longness of 4.5 meters, Dakosaurus maximus was the member of a marine animal family known as thalattosuchians. From the unique shape of animal’s skull and teeth, it was demonstrated that its prey was similar to that of killer whales at the modern time. The animal would have resorted to its broad and short jaws for swallowing the whole large fish and biting chunks from larger prey.

A 5.5 cm-long tooth of Dakosaurus maximus was discovered at Kimmeridge Clay Formation in Dorset, England and thought to be biggest British specimen of the genus Dakosaurus so far.


Life restoration of Dakosaurus maximus, center, and two Gnathosaurus subulatus. Image credit: Dmitry Bogdanov / CC BY 3.0.

According to the paper with Dr Young as the lead author, which was published in the journal of Historical Biology, the environment where the fossil was discovered was unusual, because instead of being collected on the shore or dug up, it was dredged from the sea floor.

As Dr Young said, taking account of its size, Dakosaurus did have very big teeth, but it was not the highest-ranking marine predator at its day. It was possible that Dakosaurus should swim at the sides of other larger marine reptiles, thus bringing extreme dangers to the shallow seas of the Late Jurassic period.

Journal reference: Mark T. Young et al. Largest known specimen of the genus Dakosaurus(Metriorhynchidae: Geosaurini) from the Kimmeridge Clay Formation (Late Jurassic) of England, and an overview of Dakosaurus specimens discovered from this formation (including reworked specimens from the Woburn Sands Formation). Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology, published online May 16, 2014; doi: 10.1080/08912963.2014.915822