Huge Tooth Proves Jurassic Seas Were Crazy Dangerous (Page 2)

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Fast forward 152 million years, and the D. maximus tooth was found in a collection of material that was dredged from the sea floor near Chesil Beach, Dorset. That’s unusual, because most fossilized teeth from prehistoric marine predators are discovered during excavations, or are found on the shore by experts or lucky individuals with a good eye.

The tooth wound up at an online auction, where a savvy fossil collector purchased it. Lorna Steel, a curator at the Natural History Museum in London, then received a nice surprise.

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"I was sent a photo of the tooth by the UK fossil collector," Steel told Discovery News, "asking what did I think this tooth was, so I said, 'Dakosaurus,' and forwarded it to Mark for his opinion. Some of what he said is unrepeatable here, but the collector then offered to sell it to the museum for the price he paid online. We are very grateful to him for his generosity."

Dakosaurus was unlike anything alive today, and what is now Europe was certainly a very different place during the marine creature's lifetime.

"At a time when Archaeopteryx was flying around Germany and Diplodocus (a huge dinosaur) walked the plains of America, Earth’s seas were busy with the giant pliosaurs dominating the food chains," Steel said.

ANALYSIS: Giant Crocs Ruled Ancient Seas

As for Dakosaurus and its kin, she said, "With front limbs modified into flippers and a shark-like tail fin, metriorhynchids were so weird and different from living crocodiles today, it is hard to properly compare them."

Dakosaurus, which sported a bullet-shaped snout, has been nicknamed “Sucker Croc.”

The researchers explained that it could suck in large fish and swallow them whole, in addition to biting off chunks of flesh from larger prey with its impressively big teeth.