Artist's interpretation of the monster catching a pterosaur - Artwork by Tor Sponga, BT
Remains of a bus-sized prehistoric plesiosaur has been found on the Arctic island chain of Svalbard - about halfway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole. The skeleton has been nicknamed "The Monster" because of its enormous size, roughly 15 meters, a length that makes this animal the biggest sea dinosaurs ever found.
These animals were the top predators living in what was then a relatively cool, deep sea. Plesiosaurs are said to fit descriptions of Scotland's mythical Loch Ness monster. They used two sets of powerful flippers for swimming and came in two varieties - one with a small head and very long neck, and another with a large head and short neck. The short-necked ones, like "The Monster" are known as pliosaurs.
The discovery of a gigantic pliosaur is one of the most remarkable discoveries of the palaeontologists from the University of Oslo's Natural History Museum.
Its skeleton has dinner-plate-sized neck vertebrae, and the lower jaw has teeth as big as bananas.
Artist's interpretation of the monster catching a smaller plesiosaur - Artwork by Tor Sponga, BT
Artist's interpretation of the monster hunting ichthyosaurs - Artwork by Tor Sponga, BT
Size comparison - Killer whale, Blue whale, Pliosaur ("The Monster") and human dive - Artwork by Tor Sponga, BT
Size comparison between the Kronosaurus, the biggest sea dinosaurs until the discovery of the Svalbard monster
Pictures from the workfield on the Svalbard Island:
Read more and visit the official page of the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo about the discovery
All the pictures are © Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Norway