Vertebrates - dinosaurs – Københavns Universitet

Geological Museum
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Geological Museum > Exhibitions > Vertebrates


Prehistoric Vertebrates

During the Mesozoic Era, 250 to 65 million years ago, a multitude of reptiles existed on land, in the sea and in the air. Skulls of many different dinosaurs are on exhibit, for example the well-known horned dinosaurs and the terrifying meat-eating dinosaur Albertosaurus. Another group of reptiles, the pterosaurs, conquered the air and achieved gigantic sizes - a full-size model of the huge pterosaur Pteranodon soars above the heads of the museum's visitors.

Finally, the exhibit shows examples of a variety of reptiles, which were adapted to a life in the sea: plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, seagoing crocodiles and mosasaurs.






The Israeli mosasaur
Mosasaurs were meat-eating marine reptiles with a snakelike body which evolved 90 million years ago, and became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. Their closest living relatives are the monitor lizards. Mosasaurs typically reached lengths of three to six metres, but a few forms achieved lengths of 15 to 17 metres.

In 1993 a complete skull of a mosasaur was discovered in a phosphate mine in the Negev Desert in Israel. The mining company contacted geologists from the nearby Ben Gurion University, who excavated the skull and recovered it as a single large block. The block received a protective plaster jacket and was placed in a transport box. It was then sent to the Geological Museum in Copenhagen to be cleaned completely of hard phosphate and preserved. The skull was then scientifically described by two Danish palaeontologists, Niels Bonde and Per Christiansen, who named it Prognathodon currii. From the size of the skull they reconstructed the length of the animal to approximately 14 metres.

The original fossil is back in Israel and the cast of the enormous skull of Prognathodon currii in the Geological Museum is the only one on display worldwide.