Published May 16, 2012
Being a mythological creature is hard work. Pair that with an arthritic jaw, and your job of scaring swimmers and boaters becomes nearly impossible.
According to Live Science, researchers came to the conclusion that Nessie, or at least creatures resembling the Loch Ness monster, suffered from arthritis of the jaw and would have succumbed to the disease in old age.
Live Science reported, "Scientists reached that conclusion while investigating the fossil of an extinct marine reptile known as a pliosaur. The carnivore was apparently an old female extending some 26 feet (8 meters). It had a 10-foot-long (3 meters), crocodilelike head, short neck, whalelike body and four powerful flippers to propel it through water to hunt down prey."
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Pliosaurs had crocodile-like heads, whale-like bodies, short necks and giant flipper, according to ABC News. The creatures were the top predators in the marine environment, so other animals would not have hunted them.
Researcher Michael Benton, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Bristol in England, told Live Science, "This pliosaur, like many of its relatives, was truly huge. To stand beside its skull and realize that it is 3 meters long, and massive and heavy as it is, that it once functioned with muscles and blood vessels and nerves, is amazing. You can lie down inside its mouth."
According to Discovery.com, Benton and his team analyzed a Pliosaurus that had been unearthed in 1994. The specimen is approximately a 150-million-year-old female. The researchers quickly found evidence in the jaw that the beast was suffering from a degenerative condition similar to human arthritis.
Benton wrote in an email statement, "To see the jaws distorted out of place substantially enough that the front tips of the jaws overlapped, and the lower teeth made definite holes in the upper jaw, 5 centimeters (2 inches) off to the side, and that it lived with this agonizing pain for so long, evidently still managing to feed, is quite impressive. This was an old, weather-beaten animal when it died."
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