A new prehistoric sea creature whose name translates to "snakey crocodile-face" was recently discovered by researchers in eastern Wyoming.
Remains of the Serpentisuchops were discovered by a group led by College of Charleston geology professor Scott Persons, Nexstar Media Wire reports.
The mysterious sea creature belongs to the plesiosaurs group and was described by Persons as a “beast that swam the seas while dinosaurs walked the earth 70 million years ago.”
“When I was a student,” Persons said via Nexstar. “I was taught that all late-evolving plesiosaurs fall into one of two anatomical categories: those with really long necks and tiny heads, and those with short necks and really long jaws. Well, our new animal totally confounds those categories.”
Persons said the creature's neck was perfectly preserved when fossils were discovered in eastern Wyoming, which he said was due to the fossil sinking to the seafloor, where it was buried by sediments for 70 million years until it was recently found by the group.
“The neck vertebrae just kept going,” Persons said. “For comparison, your own neck has a mere seven vertebrae. Serpentisuchops has thirty-two.”
The research team suggested that fossils of other plesiosaur species may need to be reassessed in order to make sure that their neck sizes weren't improperly measured following the recent discovery.