Scientists probe fossil of biggest ever sea predator

Scientists are probing into fossilised skull of the biggest and the most fearsome sea monster that ever lived, with the help of one of the most powerful CT scanners.

Last Updated: Dec 24, 2010, 19:05 PM IST

London: Scientists are probing into fossilised skull of the biggest and the most fearsome sea monster that ever lived, with the help of one of the most powerful CT scanners.

The X-rays will help build a lifelike 3D picture of the pliosaur predator - four times as powerful as the fearsome T-Rex.

Its 12-inch-long bone-crunching teeth were packed into jaws with the grip of a hydraulic press - or 16,000 kilos per square inch, according to University of Southampton statement.

The enormous skull of the gigantic beast was painstakingly unearthed piece by piece over an eight-year-period along Britain`s Jurassic Coast by fossiler Kevin Sheehan, the Daily Mail reports.

Experts pieced it together and established it was a pliosaur, an aquatic reptile, that was 60-feet-long, weighed 12 tonnes and terrorised the oceans 150 million years ago.

More than twice the size of a killer whale, its eight-foot-long jaw was 4.5 times more powerful than a T-Rex and would easily swallow a human whole or bite a car in two if around today.

Palaeontologist Richard Forrest said: "We hope that these CT scans will show the internal structure of the jaws and how they were built to withstand such incredible forces."

Mark Mavrogordato, engineer at the University of Southampton, said: "We have to extract the most information from the fossil and we certainly don`t want to destroy it, so this is really the perfect tool."

Scientists believe the pliosaur is the top predator of all time and could "have had a T-Rex for breakfast".

Experts unveiled the remarkable discovery last year and are now using the powerful CT scanner at the University of Southampton to penetrate deep inside the dense fossil.

It lived at the same time as the giant Stegosaurus, Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus.

IANS