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Fossil Fake ID: Mosasaur-Spino Composite?


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I need help. WHAT IS THIS? It is being sold as a Moroccan mosasaur tooth and jaw section. I suspect the jaw part probably comes from the phosphates and is genuine mosasaur, but is the tooth, spinosaurid? If this is a fake, it is a much higher quality fake than normal. The change in texture at the base of the crown is suspicious, though. I’d like to hear some of your opinions. Thanks.  

 

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Fairly sure it's a composite:

 

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I agree the tooth is odd - it doesn't seem as conical as most spinosaur teeth, and seems too elongated to be a mosasaur. I'm not very familiar with Moroccan fossils, so I can't say for sure. 

 

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While I agree that it's a composite. It's not as bad as you think. Both tooth and jaw parts are from a mosasaur. It's not a spinosaur tooth I don't think. Spinosaur teeth are generally longer and thinner than this.

 

There are a whole lot of different mosasaur species present in Morocco. Their teeth can be quite variable. And this is consistent with some mosasaur teeth I've seen before. I'm leaning towards Mosasaurus or Prognathodon.

But @jnoun11 will likely be able to identify the species more confidently.

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pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon

I don't know, I don't see too much evidence of this being a composite. And while I'd be much more inclined to identify this as a Kem Kem crocodile tooth for the presence of the two carinae, the degree of lateral compression and how straight the tooth is (most mosasaur teeth have a distal curvature), the jaw is definitely mosasaurian and the type of conservation matches that for the phosphate deposits. Moreover, even if this were a composite, it seems very unlikely that the composite would've been put together from pieces collected from different parts of the country. Thus, no doubt that this is mosasaurian, just an uncommon straight triangular tooth...

 

As to the species, I must say this is rather tricky... It's clearly not one of the many durophagous species - G. phosphaticus, G. simplex, I. aegypticus, P. currii, H. khuludae, C. belgicus, C. minalmamar, X. calminechari - nor is it halisaurine, E. heterodontus, P. giganteus, or G. almaghribensis. I think the greatest likelihood is that it's one of the Mosasaurus-species - M. beaugei, M. hoffmanni - P. solvayi or tylosaurine; P. anceps also seems less likely, as there seems to be some faceting on both labial and lingual sides of the tooth. Mosasaurus can also be ruled out as far as I'm concerned, though, as the teeth of both aforementioned species are less laterally compressed than the specimen under consideration here. Moreover, M. hoffmanni would have only about flat prism faces on the buccal side of the tooth, whereas M. beaugei would have a different number of flat prism faces on the labial side than facets on the lingual side. I don't think it's P. solvayi either, as I'd expect it's teeth to have clearly recognizable striations - which leaves tylosaurinae as my best candidate...

 

For comparison:

 

Edited by pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon
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7 hours ago, LordTrilobite said:

While I agree that it's a composite. It's not as bad as you think. Both tooth and jaw parts are from a mosasaur. It's not a spinosaur tooth I don't think. Spinosaur teeth are generally longer and thinner than this.

 

There are a whole lot of different mosasaur species present in Morocco. Their teeth can be quite variable. And this is consistent with some mosasaur teeth I've seen before. I'm leaning towards Mosasaurus or Prognathodon.

But @jnoun11 will likely be able to identify the species more confidently.

 

5 minutes ago, pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon said:

I don't know, I don't see too much evidence of this being a composite. And while I'd be much more inclined to identify this as a Kem Kem crocodile tooth for the presence of the two carinae, the degree of lateral compression and how straight the tooth is (most mosasaur teeth have a distal curvature), the jaw is definitely mosasaurian and the type of conservation matches that for the phosphate deposits. Moreover, even if this were a composite, it seems very unlikely that the composite would've been put together from pieces collected from different parts of the country. Thus, no doubt that this is mosasaurian, just an uncommon straight triangular tooth...

 

As to the species, I must say this is rather tricky... It's clearly not one of the many durophagous species - G. phosphaticus, G. simplex, I. aegypticus, P. currii, H. khuludae, C. belgicus, C. minalmamar, X. calminechari - nor is it halisaurine, E. heterodontus, P. giganteus, or G. almaghribensis. I think the greatest likelihood is that it's one of the Mosasaurus-species - M. beaugei, M. hoffmanni - P. solvayi or tylosaurine; P. anceps also seems less likely, as there seems to be some faceting on both labial and lingual sides of the tooth. Mosasaurus can also be ruled out as far as I'm concerned, though, as the teeth of both aforementioned species are less laterally compressed than the specimen under consideration here. Moreover, M. hoffmanni would have only about flat prism faces on the buccal side of the tooth, whereas M. beaugei would have a different number of flat prism faces on the labial side than facets on the lingual side. I don't think it's P. solvayi either, as I'd expect it's teeth to have clearly recognizable striations - which leaves tylosaurinae as my best candidate...

 

Thanks for the replies. I think you are both right, the crown is mosasaur. I was too hasty to call it spinosaur. Looking at the tooth more closely, I think I know the potential identity of the crown. I was reviewing some pictures of Moroccan mosasaur jaws and I noticed the tooth above has a lot of resemblance to anterior teeth from Eremiasaurus heterodontus. Seeing the comparison, I'm starting to doubt it this tooth is even composite anymore. 

 

I don't think this is MosasaurusM. hoffmannii and M. beaugei are robust, recurved, and faceted. The lack of tertiary striae makes me think it is not tylosaurine. Anterior Prognathodon is a possibility, but those always seem to have a much more bulky shape and thick cross-section. 

 

Picture of the anterior of one of the Eremiasaurus syntypes. 

Anterior.jpg.641e1f9ba6804f0fd63d356d80018fcf.jpg

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5 minutes ago, Praefectus said:

I don't think this is MosasaurusM. hoffmannii and M. beaugei are robust, recurved, and faceted. The lack of tertiary striae makes me think it is not tylosaurine. Anterior Prognathodon is a possibility, but those always seem to have a much more bulky shape and thick cross-section.
 

Looking at the tooth more closely, I think I know the potential identity of the crown. I was reviewing some pictures of Moroccan mosasaur jaws and I noticed the tooth above has a lot of resemblance to anterior teeth from Eremiasaurus heterodontus. Seeing the comparison, I'm starting to doubt it this tooth is even composite anymore.

 

I agree: as said, Mosasaurus is less likely, as they are less compressed - in other words, bulkier. I have, however, seen teeth identified as tylosaurine - including US-specimens - which striae are hardly noticeable, and as such would not be willing to discard that option so rapidly. The more since E. heterodontus, as far as I'm aware and as concerns the teeth I've seen, has only an anterior carina, with the tooth being rounded distally (on the inner curve). It is true, however, that E. heterodontus teeth may be faceted.

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Another option that remains, of course, is that the tooth belongs to an as yet undescribed species of mosasaur ;)

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3 minutes ago, pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon said:

 

I agree: as said, Mosasaurus is less likely, as they are less compressed - in other words, bulkier. I have, however, seen teeth identified as tylosaurine - including US-specimens - which striae are hardly noticeable, and as such would not be willing to discard that option so rapidly. The more since E. heterodontus, as far as I'm aware and as concerns the teeth I've seen, has only an anterior carina, with the tooth being rounded distally (on the inner curve). It is true, however, that E. heterodontus teeth may be faceted.

 

Aw shoot. I thought I had it. You are right. I just went and checked my eremia tooth and it only has an anterior carinae. I guess it must be something else. :DOH:

 

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2 minutes ago, pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon said:

Another option that remains, of course, is that the tooth belongs to an as yet undescribed species of mosasaur ;)

Yeah, that is a very real possibility. It seems like there is a new mosasaur described there every year :oO:

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hi guys

the variation on mosasaurs is hudge,and morocco is full of skull and skeleton, determination from one tooth is difficult, i work on that but that need more time.

for this tooth ,the firs step is cleaning the base of the tooth with acetone, and see if its composite or not. look too me a prognathodon left upper anterior tooth not spinosaur.

unfortunatly from here the progress on studies of moroccans mosasaurs is slow and badly organized. the frenchies take the monopole of this studies, but they are not on a field daily, like the local diggers.

why the international community can not organised in morocco , a international program with scientist or student , staying long time on a field,? that will show lot of new species.

i will try to make a topic about the differents teeth of each species , for make a "teethctionnary", but this year i have no students for helping me here (coronatime), and i m too busy with the spinosaur reconstruction.

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On 4/10/2021 at 10:10 AM, jnoun11 said:

unfortunatly from here the progress on studies of moroccans mosasaurs is slow and badly organized. the frenchies take the monopole of this studies, but they are not on a field daily, like the local diggers.

why the international community can not organised in morocco , a international program with scientist or student , staying long time on a field,? that will show lot of new species.

 

Yeah, I would be really good to have some more permanent research going on around mosasaurs in Morocco. Unfortunately, I think the following factors might what's weighing against this currently being the case:

 

1. The language barrier. You can notice it within pan-European governmental institutions as well: some nations easily pick up the French language, whereas for others it's very difficult. Especially for people from countries with a Germanic language I can see this being a challenge - though certainly not unsurmountable.

2. As you said, the French have kind of claimed a monopoly on this line of research, which I think again makes matters more complicated for researchers from other countries to get is as not only may stakes be claimed, but there's always been rather a bit of an academic divide between the French-speaking world and the English-speaking one - at least as concerns archaeology.

3. There are few countries with both the economic capital and incentive to do research abroad. Plenty of countries have their own palaeontological wealth that national researchers focus on, others are simply located too far away. You wouldn't expect too many US/Canadian scientists to take a serious long term interest, for example, as Morocco, for them, is simply too far away without offering too much, as they have a wealth of dinosaurian material to work on coming out of their own country. It's the came reason why you'll see American archaeologists mostly working on Precolumbian cultures, whereas Europeans will focus mostly on Classical cultures, prehistory and other areas of world culture.

4. While with respect to the above the Dutch would seem a good candidate to join in the research effort in Morocco - especially in light of the special relationship that exists between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Morocco and their experience with mosasaurian material - there are just too few palaeontologists of renown in this country to organise such a long-term dedicated scientific project. This is also why I ended up studying archaeology, rather than palaeontology. For, however bleak career-prospects in the former field are, they still greatly outdo those in palaeontology...

 

May be the above is just conjecture. But those are my thoughts on the matter anyway...

 

On 4/10/2021 at 10:10 AM, jnoun11 said:

i will try to make a topic about the differents teeth of each species , for make a "teethctionnary", but this year i have no students for helping me here (coronatime), and i m too busy with the spinosaur reconstruction.

 

As to the "catalogue of teeth" you mentioned, I really like this idea! I've had the idea of creating this myself once - though for the Dutch forum - but didn't go through with it, as it seems like a lot of work and at that point still open to conjecture - especially with a lot of people on that forum at that time maintaining that identification of mosasaur species based on teeth is futile. I've got the impression that this attitude has since changed in academia, however. So, I'm totally behind you for this project!

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22 minutes ago, pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon said:

As to the "catalogue of teeth" you mentioned, I really like this idea! I've had the idea of creating this myself once - though for the Dutch forum - but didn't go through with it, as it seems like a lot of work and at that point still open to conjecture - especially with a lot of people on that forum at that time maintaining that identification of mosasaur species based on teeth is futile. I've got the impression that this attitude has since changed in academia, however. So, I'm totally behind you for this project!

 

I also think this is a good idea. Mosasaurid teeth are definitely diagnostic at the generic level and crown ornamentation can often be used to differentiate species. I think the doubtful attitudes surrounding the taxonomic potential of mosasaur teeth stems from the really early literature where teeth were often not described as part of the species description (and identifications were more prone to being incorrect). One issue that I can see coming up with a mosasaur tooth catalogue for Moroccan specimens is that there seems to be a whole lot of morphologies that have not been described yet. Lots of weird morphologies that probably represent new species or species currently thought of as not being in Morocco. 

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