Japan Unearths 72-Million-Years-Old Blue 'Dragon' That Terrorized Ancient Seas

Japan Unearths 72-Million-Years-Old Blue 'Dragon' That Terrorized Ancient Seas

Around 72 million years ago, this massive creature terrorised the Pacific waters. In 2006, the remains were unearthed beside the Aridagawa River in Wakayama Prefecture.

Aditi ThakurUpdated: Thursday, December 14, 2023, 10:31 PM IST
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Representative photo | Freepik

In a stunning discovery, the extinct and apex predator mosasaur, a huge marine reptile from the Late Cretaceous period, fossil specimen was discovered in Japan. Around 72 million years ago, this massive creature terrorised the Pacific waters. In 2006, the remains were unearthed beside the Aridagawa River in Wakayama Prefecture.

According to a study published in the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, experts named the reptile after Japan's Wakayama Prefecture, meaning 'Blue Dragon.'

Associate Professor Takuya Konishi from the University of Cincinnati teamed with international co-authors and described the remarkable discovery in the Palaeontology journal. Co-author Akihiro Misaki found the mosasaur's fossil. At that time, Misaki was exploring ammonite fossils when he saw an unusual black fossil in the sandstone.

In his statement, Konishi explained, "In China, dragons make thunder and live in the sky. In Japanese mythology, they evolved into aquatic creatures."

Konishi, who has been researching mosasaurs for 15 years, said that the Wakayama Soryu fossil specimen is the most complete mosasaur skeleton ever discovered in Japan or the northern Pacific. "In this case, it was nearly the entire specimen, which was astounding," said Konishi.

This underwater predator possessed distinct features that made easy categorisation challenging. According to experts, the animal featured a crocodile-like head and large paddle-shaped flippers. Its back flippers were larger than its front flippers.

According to Konishi, this predator possessed nearly binocular vision, making it a deadly hunter. More than five feet long, this aquatic creature also featured a dorsal fin similar to the great white shark.

The researchers said, "The large front fins might have helped with rapid manoeuvring, while its large rear fins might have provided pitch to dive or surface." They also thought that, like other mosasaurs, the blue dragon's tail produced intense and rapid acceleration while hunting fish and was used for propulsion.

"It's unclear how all five of these hydrodynamic surfaces were used. Which of these were for steering? Which is best for propulsion?" Konishi said. "It opens a whole can of worms that challenge our understanding of how mosasaurs swim."

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