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Scrappy bones and a few teeth: Denmark's finest mosasaur specimen


The Amateur Paleontologist

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The Amateur Paleontologist

Hi all :) 

Some of you may remember that I used to (and still do) research on fossils from the Late Cretaceous chalk of Denmark... Now there are 2 main chalk sites in Denmark, Møns Klint and Stevns Klint. My work focuses on the stuff from Møns Klint, but in all honesty there's some spectacular fossils coming out of both localities. One thing that both Møns and Stevns have in common is that fossils of mosasaurs (giant lizard-like marine reptiles) are extremely rare, with only a small handful of specimens found every year.

A few years ago, I went to the Geomuseum Faxe (south of Copenhagen) to check out one of the finest mosasaur specimens from the Danish Chalk. It's roughly 67 million years old, and was found by amateur collector Peter Bennicke at a small quarry close to the Stevns Klint cliffs. The specimen is preserved in a large-ish block of chalk (~0.7 metres wide). The whole fossil consists of about 7 or 8 teeth, and some small cranial and jaw fragments. Yeah. Mosasaurs are so rare in Denmark that the best mosasaur fossil is a small association of a few teeth and bone bits. These remains are from Plioplatecarpus sp., one of the smaller fish-eating mosasaurs. The find was considered so rare that it was declared as part of the "Danish Natural History treasure trove" (Danekræ, catalogue Nº DK-1048).

 

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The museum where the mosasaur is kept (on loan from the natural history museum in Copenhagen).

 

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The chalk quarry (Stevns Kridtbrud) where the mosasaur fossil was found.

 

Here's the Plioplatecarpus specimen in all its fragmentary glory!

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Most mosasaur fossils in Denmark are in the form of single isolated teeth, so this find is especially cool because it's one of very few (2-3) specimens that consist of multiple associated bones/teeth from one individual. This one would've been roughly 4-5 metres long, and would have ate small to mid-sized fish such as Enchodus. By the way sorry for the not-so-great photo quality, it's kinda difficult to take good pictures from behind an exhibition case...

 

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Best-preserved teeth.  

 

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Tiny little teeth... And a small scrap of bone, probably cranial.

 

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More bone fragments...

 

So yeah, a few associated teeth and bits of bone - for something so rare, this one's pretty cool. :)

 

Hopefully I can find something like that, at Møns Klint this time, when I go out for this year's fieldwork!

 

Let me know what you think about this nice mosasaur specimen!!

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The Faxe Museum is a wonderful little museum.  Glad this critter found its way to the museum.  

 

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There has been a fresh landslide at Møn so there should be some new material to go through

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The Amateur Paleontologist
17 hours ago, jpc said:

The Faxe Museum is a wonderful little museum.  Glad this critter found its way to the museum.  

 

Absolutely, that place is great; so many incredible Chalk fossils are kept over there! And yeah it's nice that the mosasaur got into the museum - the Danekræ legislation makes it easier for significant fossils to be brought to and housed in Danish museums.

 

10 hours ago, Phevo said:

There has been a fresh landslide at Møn so there should be some new material to go through

Yeah I read about it a few months ago. :) Do you know where exactly the landslide happened? Like was it closer to the big staircase from GeoCenter, or was it closer to the lighthouse (Møns Fyr)? That'd be really great to know.

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I am not sure where the current slide is located, but I have always gone from the lighthouse, the trail is much more even and the better spots are in that direction aswell

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