Thursday, December 23, 2010

Technology Takes A Look At A Pliosaur Skull

Source: Flickr
The article "Colossal pliosaur fossil secrets revealed by CT scanner," caught my attention because it describes an interesting new use for existing technology. Researchers took the skull of a pliosaur, a creature that lived in the oceans during the Jurassic period, and scanned it to learn more about the fossil remains - which may belong to the largest pliosaur yet to be discovered.

The creature is estimated between 10-16m, based on the skull which is 2.4m long. By comparison, a killer whale is 5-8m and a human is only 1.5m. Needless to say, these things were big. According to the BBC article, a pliosaur would have had the jaw strength to bite a car in half.

The CT scanner used for the research belongs to the University of Southampton in the UK. The machine is one of the largest of its kind, which was necessary to beam through the dense fossil to form a 3D image of what the inside of it looks like. The findings may be able to help researchers establish if their fossil is a different species, or just an abnormally big example of a pliosaur. 

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