Friday 5 July 2019

Miners Looking for Gemstones Find Ancient Sea Monster Instead

By Laura Geggel, Associate Editor | July 3, 2019 11:18am ET

Miners digging for gemstones found something entirely different last month; rather than uncovering the shiny and iridescent gemstone known as ammolite, they discovered the fossilized remains of an ancient sea monster.

Paleontologists could barely contain their glee. The ancient sea monster was the nearly complete skeleton of a marine reptile known as a mosasaur, likely of the genus Tylosaurus, that lived during the dinosaur age about 70 million years ago.

During that time, Alberta, Canada (where the mosasaur was found) lay underwater, covered by the Western Interior Seaway, which stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Sea. 

"We've got everything from the head almost to the tip of the tail," said Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta. "We don't have much in the way of flippers. They were lost to decay, or maybe they were bitten off."

Enchanted Designs Limited, the company that found the mosasaur, in June, was looking for pieces of rainbow-colored ammolite that could be made into jewelry. This opal-like gemstone is made from the fossilized shells of ammonites, an extinct marine mollusk with a circular shell whose distant living relatives include the nautilus.

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