Scientists have labelled the animal a ‘highly unusual’ sea dwelling reptile, describing it to have had huge teeth embedded in extremely powerful jaws, which would have made it one of the top ocean predators of its time period.
Named ‘Luskhan itilensis’, which means ‘Master Spirit of the Volga River’, it was given to the animal because of the location its 5 foot long head was discovered. It was unearthed from the bank of the Volga River near the Russian city of Ulyanovsk 15 years ago.
Estimated to have been around 21 feet in length, it was not the biggest plesiosaur, however due to it’s peculiar features which made it seem like a hybrid of multiple other species, its discovery could rewrite the idea of the general evolution of marine reptiles.
It had a long, slim snout which gave it features more inline with a dolphin than a plesiosaur.
“This is the most striking feature, as it suggests that pliosaurs colonized a much wider range of ecological niches than previously assumed,” said study lead author Valentin Fischer.