JERUSALEM, May 21 (Xinhua) — A rare fossil of an extinct aquatic reptile, which dates back to about 70 million years ago, has been discovered in southern Israel, the Dead Sea and Arava Science Center (DSASC) in southeastern Israel said on Friday.
The fossil was discovered by hikers in Havarim Stream in the southern Negev Desert, unearthed following a flood.
It was then investigated by DSASC geologists Yaron Finzi and Sarit Ashckenazi-Polivoda, along with Rivka Rabinovich, a researcher from the Israeli National Natural History Collections (NNHC) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Ashckenazi-Polivoda told Xinhua that 16 vertebrae, a jawbone and other bone types had been discovered under a rock in the stream.
She added that they probably belonged to the aquatic reptile Mosasaurus, which lived in the now-vanished Tethys Ocean.
This reptile type had gone extinct at the end of the Cretaceous geological period, about 66 million years ago, along with dinosaurs and other animal species.
She explained that examining microscopic fossils on the rock under which the creature’s fossil was buried can reveal sea conditions of that period, including depth, food amounts and oxygen levels in the water.
The fossil was transferred to the NNHC for preservation and reconstruction, while a replica of the creature will be placed at the discovery site.