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Peruvian ‘sea monster’ skull reveals terrifying ancient carnivore

The 36-million-year-old Basilosaurus whale fossil is on display at the Natural History Museum in Lima, Peru. (Photo: Reuters)

This species once lived in a prehistoric ocean that covered parts of present-day Peru.

skull about 36 million years old well preserved with rows of long pointed teeth, excavated intact in 2021 from dry bones fossil in the Ocucaje desert, southern Peru.

Scientists think this ancient mammal was Basilosaurus, part of a family of aquatic crustaceans, whose modern descendants include whales, dolphins and the porpoise family.

Basilosaurus means “king lizard”. And although the animal is not a reptile, its long body may have moved like a giant snake.

This once top predator can measure about 12 meters in length, equivalent to the height of a 4-story building.

Sea monster skull in Peru shows scary ancient carnivores - Photo 1.

The skull likely sank to the sea floor after the mammal died, where it was buried and preserved. (Photo: Reuters)

Rodolfo Salas, Team Leader of the Department of Paleontology at Peru’s National University of San Marcos, told reporters: “It was a sea ​​monster“.

Dr Salas said the skull may belong to a new species of Basilosaurus: “When it was looking for food for itself, it must have caused a lot of damage“, he said.

Scientists believe the first crustaceans evolved from terrestrial mammals about 55 million years ago, about 10 million years after an asteroid struck what is now the peninsula. Yucatán of Mexico, wiped out most of life on Earth, including dinosaurs.

Dr. Salas explains that, when the ancient Basilosaurus died, its skull likely sank to the bottom of the sea, where it was quickly buried and preserved.

He said: “At this time, the fossil conditions were very good in Ocucaje“.

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