Nicknamed after the well-known and mysterious 'Loch Ness Monster', the fossil of a female pliosaur, found in 1994 by a fossil collector in England, lived 150 million years ago and has been found to have apparently suffered from a severe case of arthritis in her enormous jaw. The age-related condition caused her jaw to be extremely crooked and probably was instrumental in her final demise.
Scientists believe that this particular carnivorous dinosaur species with its huge monster jaws, crocodile-looking head, short neck, and whale-like body was prone to the degenerative disease.
"The most exciting aspect of this research for me is the arthritic condition, which has never been seen before in these or similar Mesozoic reptiles," researcher Judyth Sassoon at the University of Bristol said.
The pliosaur studied was an old female that measured 26 feet and had a huge 10-foot long head. Researcher and paleontologist, Michael Benton explains the enormous stature of the sea creature.
"This pliosaur, like many of its relatives, was truly huge. To stand beside its skull and realize that it is 3 meters long, and massive and heavy as it is, that it once functioned with muscles and blood vessels and nerves, is amazing. You can lie down inside its mouth."
Possessing monstrous teeth which were about 8 inches long, pliosaurs could rip other animals apart with relative ease. This particular elderly lady dinosaur, however, seemed to have succumbed to the arthritic condition in her jaw and, even though researchers believe she persevered and continued to survive years with the painful disease, she was probably unable to eat at the end of her life. Her left jaw joint was eroded and knocked her lower jaw out of its normal position making eating difficult, if not completely impossible.
So did the creature starve to death? Sassoon seems to think so.
"This old lady developed an arthritic jaw and survived with her disability for some time, but an unhealed fracture on the jaw indicates that at some time the jaw weakened and eventually broke."
The amazing findings found from studying this incredible Loch Ness Monster-like creature and its struggle with its arthritic condition can be read about online in the journal, Palaeontology.
Photo Source: ABC News