In a new scientific study, an international team of researchers discovered a new type of marine lizard in the city of Khouribga in central northern Morocco, called “Pluridens Serpentis”. The results of this discovery were published in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research.
Noureddine Jalil, an associate researcher with the scientific study from the Center for Research in Paleontology (Paris) and the Museum of Natural History at Cadi Ayyad University in Morocco – to Al Jazeera Net – says via e-mail, “It is a very beautiful discovery like the discovery of any new fossils that allows us to describe a new species and contribute to a better knowledge.” biodiversity in the past. Read also For the first time… an estimate of the number of “T-Rex” dinosaurs that roamed the Earth in the Cretaceous period“The Dinosaur Treasures of Morocco” .. How did the history of paleontology change forever?A duck-billed dinosaur that lived in Morocco and Africa 66 million years ago Morocco stores 70% of its assets in the world.. What do you know about phosphates and its enormous wealth?
The third type discovered in the region
The research team that conducted the study included Nicholas Longrich from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, Natalie Bard from the Center for Research in Paleontology at Sorbonne University in France, Fatima Khaldoun Osama, Khediri Yazami from the OCP in Morocco, Nour El Din Jalil is a researcher at the Paleontology Research Center in France and the Natural History Museum at the Cadi Ayyad University in Morocco.
“The giant Moroccan mosasaur from the end of the Cretaceous period, up to 8 meters long, is the third new species to be described in the area in less than a year, bringing the total number to at least 13 species,” said the press release published by the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.
Jalil returns to Al Jazeera Net by saying, “This new discovery confirms to the scientific community that Moroccan phosphates are the standard for studying the diversity of life at this crucial time in the history of life on Earth,” and the great diversity of animals shows how mosasaurs flourished.
He adds that mosasaurs are a type of “giant marine lizard that was closely related to present-day Komodo snakes and dragons throughout the last millions of years of the Cretaceous period, before being wiped out by a giant asteroid impact that wiped out about 75% of all species on Earth.”
What the public does not know about the discovery site
For the general public and the majority of Moroccans, the Moroccan phosphate is invoked as an economic importance only, but the Moroccan phosphate contains another richness unknown to the general public, and it is of great importance because it is linked to the memory of the earth, according to researcher Jalil.
The paleontologist adds, “The general public may be interested in knowing that the Maghreb phosphates formed about 72 million years ago, the end of a geological epoch called the Cretaceous, and that this phosphate formation lasted about 26 years a million years ago.”
The researcher also says, “It would be strange to know that this phosphate origination was formed in a marine environment and that all regions of Morocco where phosphates are found today are covered by a shallow inland sea, like other sedimentary rocks, where phosphates are deposited in successive layers like the pages of a book, and they have preserved the memory of the earth In addition to sediment.
Advantages of scientific detection
According to the research team’s press release, “the new species, called Pluridins serpentis, has a long and slender jaw with more than a hundred sharp teeth resembling fangs to grab small prey such as fish and squid. Compared to related species, its eyes were small, indicating poor vision.” .
And Galil explains – in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net – more, “Usually, when animals with small eyes are more dependent on other senses, the fact that Pleuridians serpentis has a lot of nerves in its nose may mean that it was using changes in water pressure to detect animals in low light conditions, Either at night or complete darkness under the water. “
“If they weren’t using eyes, it’s very likely that they were using their tongue to hunt like snakes,” says lead researcher Dr Nick Longrich, senior lecturer at the University of Bath’s Milner Center for Evolution, who led the research.
According to the scientific study, most of the associated species were small, barely a few meters in length. Pleuridians grew quite large, reaching 8 meters in length, and the largest individuals had a thick brown jaw.
It can be assumed that large males will fight with their jaws, as is the case with some beaked whales whose males have a large jaw to fight with, and this hypothesis is supported by the presence of scar wounds on some of the jaws of Ploridines serpentis.
Researcher Jalil continues his talk to Al Jazeera Net, “Moroccan phosphates are an unusual source of data on biodiversity in the past. In less than a year, 3 types of mosasaurs, one type of dinosaurs, and one type of coelacanth were described, (illustrating) nearly 26 million years ago. From the history of life on Earth.
“Like the pages of a book, every fossil can bring new elements to writing this story well, better knowledge of already known species, description of a new species, better analysis of evolutionary relationships between extinct organisms, better knowledge of their environment, ecosystems, etc.,” he concludes. The sedimentary phosphates in Morocco are far from giving us all their secrets. “