Super-predator with massive jaw that dwarfs the megalodon was biggest beast ever

The megalodon has become known as the most formidable apex predator to have ever lived but it is not the biggest.

Scientists say the largest beast to have roamed the Earth on land or water was the terrifying 115ft-long ichthyosaur which experts have dubbed a super-predator due to its jaw-dropping size.

New evidence has been gradually gathered over the past couple of decades which has painted a picture of a nightmarish sea-dwelling reptile that existed during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

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Hunting for prey at sea between 200 and 250 million years ago, the ichthyosaur measured up to 35 metres long, according to recently analysed fossils, BGR reports.

Compare that to the 18-metre-long megalodon that feasted in oceans 23 to 3.6 million years ago, and the ichthyosaur's size really is put into perspective.

Unlike today's largest animal, the blue whale which despite its 29.9 metre (98ft) frame only eats krill, the ichthyosaur was a cold-blooded killer during the Triassic period.

The late palaeontologist Elizabeth Nicholls was working with the Royal Tyrell Museum in Alberta, Canada, 20 years ago when she and a colleague discovered what was believed to be massive fossilised ichthyosaur bones.

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Research now suggests the ichthyosaur was from the Triassic period and its evolution some how accelerated due to its massive size.

Images based off fossils show the reptile with a ginormous two-metre-long skull and was initially estimated to qualify as a super-predator at 21 metres long.

The jaw-bone was measured to be around 96cm long which aided researchers' estimations of the ichthyosaur's total size actually measuring up to 25m (69ft).

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Yet calculations of the sea monster have only grown with another look at a bone found off the coast of Lilstock, Somerset, which were previously thought to be limb bones.

Scientists now believe a strange groove in the bone could prove that it and others collected between the 1840s and 1950s in fact belong to the ichthyosaur.

On that basis, they would build the largest skeleton ever seen at possibly a maximum length of 35m (115ft), making it not only the largest marine super-predator, but also the largest marine animal ever to live, NewScientist reports.


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