jurassic park wikia
jurassic park wikia

6 Amazing Mosasaur Facts to Prepare You For Jurassic World

jurassic park wikia
jurassic park wikia

Meet Mosasaurus, a gigantic carnivore that swam seas around the globe 80 million to 66 million years ago. On June 12, you can see one doing its best Shamu impression in Jurassic World.

Few people on earth know more about the amazing mosasaur family than Michael J. Everhart, who’s been collecting marine fossils for decades. A celebrated paleontologist, he serves as an adjunct curator at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kans. Between digs, Everhart manages Oceans of Kansas, which spawned a companion book in 2005. Everhart recently spoke to mental_floss about key mosasaur characteristics.

1. The Biggest Mosasaurs Were Longer Than T. rex.

Though we haven’t yet found any complete specimens, Everhart argues that both Mosasaurus and Tylosaurus (a North American cousin) probably “reached lengths of 14 to 15 meters,” or about 46–50 feet. Though Tyrannosaurus was much heavier, it maxed out at around 40 feet from nose to tail. At 60 feet long, the captive in Jurassic World surpasses even the wildest mosasaur size estimates.

Not all mosasaurs were giants. In real life, some species would have looked dwarfish beside an average American alligator. Fully grown Carinodens belgicus, for example, were likely a mere 6.5 feet long.

2. Mosasaur Jaws Are Pretty Interesting/Terrifying.

Look closely at this Jurassic World poster and you’ll see a Mosasaurus complete with two extra rows of teeth inside its maw. Did some Hollywood concept artist make these up to help the thing look scarier? Actually, no. Gripping food underwater would have been a challenge for mosasaurs. Luckily, like present-day snakes, they had a toothy secret weapon: pterygoid ("flanged") teeth, which were anchored to bones in the roof of the mouth. These made the job of handling—and swallowing—prey a whole lot easier. But, as Everhart points out, mosasaur teeth “were embedded in the fleshy tissue of their gums... [and] not nearly as visible as portrayed” in the movie.

3. Snakes and Monitor Lizards Are Their Closest Living Relatives.

Like their mosasaur relatives, snakes have extra teeth. The extinct reptiles were also closely akin to monitor lizards such as the Komodo dragon. Perhaps mosasaurs had forked, flickering tongues like their modern brethren. Unfortunately, because soft tissues seldom fossilize, we may never know for sure.

4. Mosasaurs Gave Birth to Live Young.

Everhart estimates that a 50-foot mosasaur would have weighed around 5000 kg (5.5 tons). Something that big would have really struggled to pull itself ashore to give birth. So like many oceanic animals, it gave birth beneath the waves.

We know this thanks to a Plioplatecarpus specimen. The midsize animal was found in both hemispheres' oceans from 83 to 71 million years ago. The “mother mosasaur,” which was discovered in South Dakota, shed some light on how these creatures came into the world: Scattered around the gravid (or pregnant) reptile’s body were the remains of her unborn young.

5. Just Before Dying Off, the Mosasaur Family Really Diversified.


Mosasaurs were wildly successful. Their fossils have been found on every continent, even Antarctica. And during the last 25 million years of the family’s existence, strange new varieties began to emerge. While more traditional mosasaurs dined on fish, squids, and smaller reptiles in the open ocean, a few latecomers carved out vastly different niches. Consider Globidens, which evolved rounded teeth designed for crushing hard shells. Later, the heavily built Goronyosaurus (whose skull almost looks like it was stolen from some poor crocodile) invaded African rivers. And then there is the narrow-snouted Plotosaurus with its weird, fish-like build—the potential hallmark of a streamlined, high-speed lifestyle.

6. Jurassic World takes liberties with its Mosasaurus.

For starters, Ingen’s Mosasaurus seems awfully acrobatic. “It’s not a killer whale,” Everhart says. This “tail-wagging” creature, he explains, simply wasn’t “fast enough in the water to do the kinds of jumps that are shown in the movie.” Also, the oversized specimen would probably surpass 6 tons in weight. “[That] is a lot of mass to try to shoot straight up out of a relatively small and shallow captivity pool,” Everhart says.

Everhart also takes issue with how the trailer released on April 20 portrays Mosasaurus flippers in action. “Their paddles would be held tightly against the body while swimming—watch a crocodile swim—not fluttering around creating drag,” he says. Theoretically, the appendages were used to help stabilize the animal. But the film shows them actively propelling it forward.

One other inaccuracy: The beast’s rough, croc-like hide. Real mosasaurs were relatively smooth skinned and covered with tiny scales, Everhart says.

Still, such exaggerations are par for the course. Whenever Hollywood tries to put prehistoric life on the silver screen, tweaks are always made to ensure the creatures are as cinematic and entertaining as possible. At the very least, Jurassic World already has people buzzing about mosasaurs, a group that deserves way more time in the spotlight.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Dogs

Dogs: They’re cute, they’re cuddly … and they can smell fear!

Today on Scatterbrained, John Green and friends go beyond the floof to reveal some fascinating facts about our canine pals—including the story of one Bloodhound who helped track down 600 criminals during his lifetime. (Move over, McGruff.) They’re also looking at the name origins of some of your favorite dog breeds, going behind the scenes of the Puppy Bowl, and dishing the details on how a breed gets to compete at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here!

Sploot 101: 12 Animal Slang Words Every Pet Parent Should Know

For centuries, dogs were dogs and cats were cats. They did things like bark and drink water and lay down—actions that pet parents didn’t need a translator to understand.

Then the internet arrived. Scroll through the countless Facebook groups and Twitter accounts dedicated to sharing cute animal pictures and you’ll quickly see that dogs don’t have snouts, they have snoots, and cats come in a colorful assortment of shapes and sizes ranging from smol to floof.

Pet meme language has been around long enough to start leaking into everyday conversation. If you're a pet owner (or lover) who doesn’t want to be out of the loop, here are the terms you need to know.


You know your pet is fully relaxed when they’re doing a sploot. Like a split but for the whole body, a sploot occurs when a dog or cat stretches so their bellies are flat on the ground and their back legs are pointing behind them. The amusing pose may be a way for them to take advantage of the cool ground on a hot day, or just to feel a satisfying stretch in their hip flexors. Corgis are famous for the sploot, but any quadruped can do it if they’re flexible enough.


Person holding Marnie the dog.
Emma McIntyre, Getty Images for ASPCA

Unlike most items on this list, the word derp isn’t limited to cats and dogs. It can also be a stand-in for such expressions of stupidity as “duh” or “dur.” In recent years the term has become associated with clumsy, clueless, or silly-looking cats and dogs. A pet with a tongue perpetually hanging out of its mouth, like Marnie or Lil Bub, is textbook derpy.


Cat laying on desk chair.
PoppetCloset, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’ve ever caught a cat or dog poking the tip of its tongue past its front teeth, you’ve seen a blep in action. Unlike a derpy tongue, a blep is subtle and often gone as quickly as it appears. Animal experts aren’t entirely sure why pets blep, but in cats it may have something to do with the Flehmen response, in which they use their tongues to “smell” the air.


Mlems and bleps, though very closely related, aren’t exactly the same. While blep is a passive state of being, mlem is active. It’s what happens when a pet flicks its tongue in and out of its mouth, whether to slurp up water, taste food, or just lick the air in a derpy fashion. Dogs and cats do it, of course, but reptiles have also been known to mlem.


Very fluffy cat.
J. Sibiga Photography, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some pets barely have any fur, and others have coats so voluminous that hair appears to make up most of their bodyweight. Dogs and cats in the latter group are known as floofs. Floofy animals will famously leave a wake of fur wherever they sit and can squeeze through tight spaces despite their enormous mass. Samoyeds, Pomeranians, and Persian cats are all prime examples of floofs.


Dog outside barking.

According to some corners of the internet, dogs don’t bark, they bork. Listen carefully next time you’re around a vocal doggo and you won’t be able to unhear it.


Shiba inu smiling up at the camera.

Speaking of doggos: This word isn’t hard to decode. Every dog—regardless of size, floofiness, or derpiness—can be a doggo. If you’re willing to get creative, the word can even be applied to non-dog animals like fennec foxes (special doggos) or seals (water doggos). The usage of doggo saw a spike in 2016 thanks to the internet and by the end of 2017 it was listed as one of Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching.”


Tiny kitten in grass.

Some pets are so adorably, unbearably tiny that using proper English to describe them just doesn’t cut it. Not every small pet is smol: To earn the label, a cat or dog (or kitten or puppy) must excel in both the tiny and cute departments. A pet that’s truly smol is likely to induce excited squees from everyone around it.


Hands holding a puppy.

Like doggo, pupper is self-explanatory: It can be used in place of the word puppy, but if you want to use it to describe a fully-grown doggo who’s particularly smol and cute, you can probably get away with it.

10. BOOF

We’ve already established that doggos go bork, but that’s not the only sound they make. A low, deep bark—perhaps from a dog that can’t decide if it wants to expend its energy on a full bark—is best described as a boof. Consider a boof a warning bark before the real thing.


Dog noses poking out beneath blanket.

Snoot was already a dictionary-official synonym for nose by the time dog meme culture took the internet by storm. But while snoot is rarely used to describe human faces today, it’s quickly becoming the preferred term for pet snouts. There’s even a wholesome viral challenge dedicated to dogs poking their snoots through their owners' hands.

12. BOOP

Have you ever seen a dog snoot so cute you just had to reach out and tap it? And when you did, was your action accompanied by an involuntary “boop” sound? This urge is so universal that boop is now its own verb. Humans aren’t the only ones who can boop: Search the word on YouTube and treat yourself to hours of dogs, cats, and other animals exchanging the love tap.


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