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Thalattosaur Skeleton Found In Alaska


First Posted: 07/29/11 07:49 PM ET Updated: 09/28/11 06:12 AM ET

Well, a Thalattosaur skeleton sure isn't something you expect to see on a day at the beach.

According to International Business Times, a 200 million year old fossil was discovered along the shore, near Tongass National Forest, during a low tide.

Alaskan scientists determined that the skeleton, submerged in water and rocks, was of a rare marine creature called Thalattosaurs. According to the publication, the last Thalattosaurs to survive was from about 200 million years ago.

The publication detailed what's next for the shocking discovery:

"Scientists are continuing to dig out the rest of the fossils along with finding the skull which may be buried deep into the beach rocks. They were able to dig out two large slabs of rocks with fossils embedded. The slabs were sent to a museum lab in order to chip out the delicate bones in hopes of revealing one of the most complete Thalattosaur skeleton ever discovered."

Dr Jim Baichtal, a geologist and part of the discovery team, told The Daily Mail that finding the skeleton was a complete surprise.

"We were just having our morning coffee out on the outcropping when somebody said, 'what's that?"'

Since, in the past, Thalattosaur bones have often been found in fragments, Baichtal said that this find is very unique. "In North America, this may be the most articulated specimen that we have right now."

The species roamed the seas roughly 30 million years ago, and resembled a very large, underwater lizard. The rare fossil is now in Alaska's Museum of the North, where scientists are working to separate the rock from the bone.

The find comes just months after the discovery of a cleverly nick-named dinosaur, "thunder thighs." The fossil was found in Utah, and scientists classified it in a family known for their long necks and tails. A triceratops fossil was also recently revealed, which provided scientists with the strongest evidence so far that dinosaurs were still roaming the earth when the meteorite hit.

Image provided by Seth Anderson on Flickr.

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Filed by Laura Hibbard  |  Report Corrections