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This rare skull of a juvenile Liopleurodon ferox was discovered in the Oxford Clays off of Petersborough and was recently put on auction. The skull measured around 43″ and was partially intact.
What is excellent about this particular piece is what can be deduced from it. Of particular use is the tooth laying directly behind the exposed eye orbit (just right of center). This is a complete tooth, root and crown.
The tooth’s positioning is fortuitous, as it enables us to do some quick calculating. The tooth is very likely one of the largest in the jaw and measures approximately 1/8th of the skull’s complete length. With this hard evidence in hand, we can use it as a starting point and then scale up using other fossil material.
For example, there are several teeth in the LMNH measuring 16″ in length (400 mm). By multiplying the size of that tooth times 8 (tooth to skull length ratio) we can infer that the entire skull of that animal measured around 128″ or 10 feet 8 inches (3.26 meters for those favoring metrics).
Liopleurodon was a Jurassic Thalassophonean, and as such, typically had a skull measuring around 1/6 its entire length. At 1/6 ratios, this would indicate the owners of these 16″ teeth measured somewhere around 64 feet, or close to 20 meters.
Interestingly, paleontologist/plesiosaur expert Richard Forrest has calculated on his web site (http://plesiosaur.com/
My conclusion is that Richard is 100% right in his calculations. and I stand by my figures. At 64 feet (and around 80 tons), these animals may not have been the biggest pliosaurs, but they were monstrous beasts nonetheless. Slowly but surely, proof is coming to light that shows these scaly macropredators were both the most massive and the deadliest marine predators of all time.
At least, so far . . .
Max Hawthorne, author
(article original publication date 11/10/2015