Maastricht, 20th September 2012
Fossil of 13-metre long Mosasaur discovered in quarry near Maastricht
In a limestone quarry just outside Maastricht the skeleton of an enormous Mosasaur is presently being excavated. Mosasaurs are extinct marine reptiles that lived towards the end of the ‘dinosaur era’, just over 65 million years ago. Back then, the area around Maastricht was covered by a shallow sea.
Carlo Brauer, an excavator operator at the ENCI-Maastricht quarry, discovered the giant teeth of the fossil creature in the shovel of his digger last Monday. Brauer: “I saw them glistening in the morning sun.”
ENCI, the quarry owners, directly halted operations in the area concerned and liaised with Maastricht Natural History Museum, where the museum’s paleontologists immediately confirmed this was a unique find.
Over the past ten days, museum staff have retrieved several large sections of the skull and part of the body and tail of the approximately 13-metre long skeleton.
Brauer, the fossil’s discoverer: “I’ve been working at ENCI for 23 years now and had always hoped I’d someday find a major fossil like this. It’s fantastic and I’m really elated about the find – particularly because the quarrying activities will only be continuing for another six years. The chances of finding something like this are declining by the day…”
From what has been uncovered until now, this appears to be the oldest known specimen of Mosasaurus hoffmanni or a closely related species. This Mosasaur lived approximately 67.83 million years ago, making it about one-and-a-half million years older than “Bčr”, the other species of Mosasaur discovered here in 1998.
Over the coming months work on conserving the fossil will continue at the museum, as will its scientific study. In all likelihood it will be on view to the public from the Christmas holiday onwards.
(Not for publication):