A razor-toothed prehistoric sea monster had a mouth like a box cutter, according to researchers.
They say the mosasaur, an extinct reptile from the end of the age of dinosaurs, could tear through its prey and take on much larger creatures.
A new species of the mosasaur was recently identified, after a fossil of a jaw was discovered in Morocco showing it was studded with teeth.
Experts say the barracuda-like carnivore was likely the most ferocious reptile in the sea with its teeth, which were flat and serrated like a shark.
They described it as forming a “saw-like blade”, which would use a “cutting motion used to carve pieces out of large prey, or in scavenging”.
The mouth of razors makes it unique among the species, which became extinct 66million years ago, ScienceNews reports.
The creature, the distance relative of snakes and monitor lizards, lived off the coast of what is now Morocco during the Cretaceous period.
Researchers said the closest match for its teeth seem to be modern-day dogfish sharks, which can cut large bolts of flesh out as they scavenge through the seas.
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Dr Nick Longrich, a paleontologist at the University of Bath, said: “Those teeth are just unlike anything I’ve seen in a lizard before.”
He added: “Our best guess is that the specialised teeth served to allow it to cut large fish into bite-sized pieces, and perhaps scavenge from large carcasses, as dogfish and sleeper sharks sometimes do.
“But we can’t rule out other feeding strategies or other prey.
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“It could probably take a huge range of foods, like modern dogfish, but the blade-like teeth allowed it to take much larger prey than it otherwise could.”
The new species was named Xenodens calminechari.
Xenodens means “strange tooth”, while calminechari is an Arabic term for “like a saw”.
The sea lizard’s teeth may have been used to “slice and dice”, it is believed.
Paulina Jiménez-Huidobro, a paleontologist at the University of Bonn in Germany, described the fossil as “completely bizarre”.
The findings were published in the journal Cretaceous Research.
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