Gunakadeit Joseeae Thalattosaur Had an Extremely Pointed Snout

Posted on February 5, 2020

Gunakadeit joseeae

Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have identified a new species of thalattosaur named Gunakadeit joseeae. A fossil of the species found in Southeast Alaska that was nearly complete apart from its partially eroded tail.

Thalattosaurs were marine reptiles that lived over 200 million years ago when dinosaurs were first emerging. They were about 3 to 4 meters long. The name Gunakadeit comes from a sea monster of Tlingit legend. The second portion of the name was in honor of Josee Michelle DeWaelheyns, the mother of Gene Primaky, who discovered the fossil.

The researchers believe the long snout or rostrum of G. joseeae was an adaptation for the shallow marine environment it inhabited.

Patrick Druckenmiller, the paper's lead author and director and earth sciences curator at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, says in the announcement, "It was probably poking its pointy schnoz into cracks and crevices in coral reefs and feeding on soft-bodied critters. We think these animals were highly specialized to feed in the shallow water environments, but when the sea levels dropped and food sources changed, they had nowhere to go."

A research paper on the new thalattosaur was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Image: Ray Troll