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Marine Creatures at Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center

During the prehistoric age, dinosaurs were not the only creatures to roam the Earth. The early makings of birds and crocodiles are also on display at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, which includes some of the specimens mentioned in this article.

Megalocoelacanthus dobiei

Measuring 12 feet long, the specimen of the Megalocoelacanthus dobiei was originally located in Lane County, Kansas by Glenn Rockers. Before coming to the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, the specimen was on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The Megalocoelacanthus dobiei was a carnivore that lived 85 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.

The Megalocoelacanthus dobiei is a coelacanth, which was first believed to have gone extinct along with the dinosaurs by the end of the Cretaceous period. However, in 1938, a live coelacanth was caught in the waters of the Indian Ocean ”“ off of the coast of Africa. A second population of the creatures was also discovered living deep in the water off of Indonesia during the 1980s.

With all of the most recent discoveries, this new genus was named following the found coelacanths that were acknowledged in the sediments of the late Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway of Alabama, Georgia and New Jersey in 1994. The coelacanths of modern times possess sharp teeth and feed on a variety of prey. The males tend to be smaller, growing to only 4 ½ feet long, while the larger females can reach lengths up to 6 feet. However, the prehistoric species of the creature were twice as long as the modern specimens.

Champsosaurus

In 1998, Jeff Barlett originally discovered the remains of a Champsosaurus, who has earned the nickname of “Champy”. While the creature was found in Harding County, South Dakota, it made its way all the way to the Fukui Prefectoral Museum in Japan before becoming a resident at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Research Center. The Champsosaurus was a meat eater that lived 66 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period.

Measuring 5 feet long, Champy is representative of the small to medium crocodile-like animals that dwelled in ancient lakes, rivers and streams at the same time that dinosaurs pounded the earth. While the creature is a distant cousin of modern day crocodiles, they possess different features in their skeleton. For example, they were born with a single opening that served as the nostrils, an extremely narrow snout, as well as an enlarged posterior portion of the skull.

When the Champsosaurus was alive, it preyed mostly on fish ”“ using its many needle-like teeth found in its snout. The creature most likely spent the majority of its life under the water, but it could occasionally come up for air just by poking the tip of its snout out of the water. Other ancestors of the alligator and crocodile shared its surroundings.