News Article

News Article

Prehistoric Reptile Unearthed in China Resembles a Lovecraftian Horror

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In southwestern China, a team of paleontologists recently discovered the well-preserved fossil remains of an entirely new species of giant reptile... which may also be one of the creepiest prehistoric specimens ever unearthed.
 
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Photo: L.Cheng et al./Naturwissenschaften
 
According to National Geographic, the skeleton of the nine-foot-long aquatic creature – which the team dubbed Atopodentatus unicushas – dates back to the mid-Triassic period (between 200 and 300 million years ago). Its name translates as “disturbing teeth,” and for damn good reason: this thing's freakish face makes it look more like a cosmic behemoth from the works of H.P. Lovecraft than an earthbound reptile.
 
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Image © Nobu Tamura via Spinops
 
That strange cleft you see in the creature's snout is actually a kind of vertical second mouth, which the team theorizes might have been used to filter small organisms from the ocean floor; that material would then get scooped into the horizontal “main” mouth below it. The hideous maw probably wasn't capable of swallowing anything much larger than tiny plankton-like organisms, so keep that in mind in case you see this thing in your next nightmare.
 
You can see more unsettling concept drawings of Atopodentatus at National Geographic... and while we're talking prehistoric nightmares, they don't get much scarier than this “mega-predator” recently unearthed in Utah.
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