Re­vealed, 10ft ter­ror that stalked our seas… the Melk­sham mon­ster

Daily Mail - - News - By Vic­to­ria Allen Sci­ence Cor­re­spon­dent

A FEAR­SOME pre­his­toric sea crocodile which pa­trolled our waters in the Juras­sic era has been iden­ti­fied by sci­en­tists.

The 10ft long creature has been dubbed the ‘Melk­sham mon­ster’ after the his­toric Wilt­shire town where its fos­sil was found.

Aca­demics have es­tab­lished that it roamed 163 mil­lion years ago in the warm, shal­low seas which cov­ered much of what is now Europe. The preda­tor, which lived at the same time as di­nosaurs, used pow­er­ful jaws and huge, ser­rated teeth to feed on prey like squid.

Sci­en­tists had to re­sort to brute force to ex­am­ine the sam­ple be­cause it had be­come en­closed in ex­tremely hard rock and cal­cite dur­ing fos­sil­i­sa­tion.

Mark Gra­ham, se­nior fos­sil prepara­tor at the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum, said the work took weeks with car­bon steel tipped chis­els and grind­ing wheels en­crusted with in­dus­trial di­a­monds.

The fos­sil of the croc named Lel­draan melk­shamen­sis has been in the mu­seum’s archives since 1875. The lat­est study found that it is a new species based on its dis­tinc­tive skull, lower jaw and teeth.

Sci­en­tists also found that the preda­tors evolved more than six mil­lion years ear­lier than thought.

The study in the Jour­nal of Sys­tem­atic Palaeon­tol­ogy was car­ried out in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh.

Juras­sic gi­ant: An artist’s im­pres­sion of a pre­his­toric croc

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