Not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s this new movie out called Jurassic World and it seems to be a wee-bit popular. Like already made a billion dollars worldwide popular! Yes, one billion dollars. Now, it could be that hunky Chris Pratt bringing the people to the theatres, but I kinda think it’s those gigantic prehistoric beasts that are what’s raising movie havoc and making all other films go extinct at the box office. It’s also made a big star (literally) out of our favourite sea creature, which makes a real vs. movie mosasaur comparison seem like a good idea.
Oh, and if you’re wondering “Why is this Manitoba blog even talking about mosasaurs?” Well, it’s because our province is full of ’em! In a land before time, around 80 million years ago, our prairie valleys were a large seaway full of big teethed creatures who were of the kill or be killed sort. Plus, Morden, Manitoba is THE hotbed for mosasaur action right now. Not only do they house the largest mosasaur in the world at their Fossil Discovery Centre, but they encourage regular folk like us to channel our childhood paleontologist dreams and help them excavate prehistoric remains on authentic fossil digs. Seriously cool stuff, people.
So let the fact vs. fiction begin…
Before we start, get your beasts in line.
Chris Pratt is definitely the best #prattkeeping expert around, but the CFDC‘s Peter Cantelon is not too shabby either. They’re both excellent alphas who keep a good handle on their beasts. Especially the betas… Blue the raptor and Bruce the mosasaur!
Don’t call them dinosaurs.
The term dinosaur is for those slow land-dwelling beasts. The mosasaur don’t play that. They’re one of the largest marine reptiles ever known and they’re all about the H2-Oh-no-it’s-swimming-at-me-at-a-most-terrifying-speed!
They want to eat all the things.
Source: Universal Pictures.
A balanced diet to a mosasaur includes pretty much anything that comes remotely near its mouth! Not all mosasaurs were gigantic, so their prey varied in size, but the larger ones (10 meters /30 feet or longer) feasted on just about anything that moved in the Western Interior Seaway. Over time, mosasaurs developed the skills to become lean, mean hunting machines. They had super amps for ears, a forked tongue to capture smell in two different directions and a long tail that would whip them around at speeds of 50kph. Suffice it to say, you don’t want to be stuck in a back-alley swamp with a mosasaur. Movie or real-life, these guys are hungry and would devour you, regular scheduled feeding time or not.
They are notoriously BIG.
But that Jurassic World mosasaur is insanely gigantic. I mean look at it, it looks bigger than a blue whale! In real life they could reach up to 50 feet in length, which is still mighty impressive, just not action movie “go big or go home” impressive. Still, this mega-beast was certainly big enough to be the most feared animal in the ancient seas and has the notorious nickname of T-Rex of the Deep.
Morden’s famous mosasaur (shown below) is named Bruce. Bruce is approximately 13 metres (43 feet) long and was discovered in Manitoba in 1974. The skeleton is reasonably complete, with about 65 – 70% of the fossilized bones recovered.
They have razor-sharp teeth…in droves.
In both the movie and real life mosasaur teeth are no joke. They possesed two sets of them, the crazy large ones you see, and the ones in the back of their mouth that kept a good hold on their victim while they chomped them to bits. (You can see that second set of teeth if you look closely in the clip below.)
Source: Universal Pictures
They can roam far if they want to.
Jurassic World has the mosasaur confined in a large body of water on the theme park island of Isla Nublar. In reality, the mosasaur had no restrictions. Their fossils have been found all over the world, but it is in Morden, Manitoba where you’ll find the largest.
They have a few chums.
The movie mosasaur looked like he had no friends to play with, but in Manitoba, the mosasaurs were not the only fearsome beasts found in the ancient seas. The CFDC has been excavating all types of cretaceous sea creatures, including the nasty looking Xiphactinus, the little-known cretaceous bird Hesperornis, and the long-necked plesiosaur. Add in the gigantic sharks, squids and turtles and you have a beach no one wants to swim at. Ever.
And with that, enjoy your summer at the beach!