Predator X: Ancient Sea Monster Gets Named

on October 17, 2012 3:49 PM EDT

Predator X
The ancient, giant marine reptile known as Predator X now has an official name. (Photo: BERGENS TIDENDE)

The ancient, giant marine reptile known as Predator X now has an official name. Predator X, which roamed the seas 150 million years ago, is now named Pliosaurus funkei, and is classified as an entirely new species.

Predator X was 40-feet long and had a 6.5-foot skull with a bite four times as powerful as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

"They were the top predators of the sea," Patrick Druckenmiller, a paleontologist at the University of Alaska Museum and study author, told CBS News. "They had teeth that would have made a T. rex whimper."

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Scientists unearthed two massive pliosaur skeletons, a breed of ancient creatures that Predator X belongs to, in Norway in 2006. One skeleton, that would go on to be known as Predator X, looked slightly different than any other ever unearthed, and after years of research and studying, researchers classified Predator X as an entirely new species.

Predator X had longer front flippers than other pliosaurs, different vertebrae and different teeth as well. However, it had the similar streamlined body, which would have allowed it to "fly" through the water.

Coupled with previously found pliosaur fossils and other giant oceanic reptiles, researchers said the ocean was probably teeming with giant predators feasting on smaller, slower dinosaurs.

"It's not just that we found a new species, we've been discovering a whole ecosystem," Druckenmiller said.

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