Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Mosaleum

The Mosaleum (a contraction of Mosasaur and Mausoleum) is the last resting place of Bèr, a very large mosasaur discovered in 1998. You can just make out his skull in the middle.

The final resting place of a mosasaur named Bèr
The Mosaleum seen from the outside

The Mosaleum is a glass building situated just outside the main building of the NHMM in Maastricht, because it is completely made of glass it lets in a lot of natural light. 
The mosasaur in the "Mosaleum" is a large Prognathodon, that was given it's own species name saturator in 2002. And it's big, at 14 meters it's among the biggest of mosasaurs. 

The glass house is climate controlled and is a nice place to spend some time, looking at the bones. Although it's not very large it feels rather spacious because of all the glass. And because the skull is placed the skull in the middle you can easily walk all around it.

The Prognathodon outline is unfortunately not life-size
Inside the Mosaleum, the glass case in the middle holds the skull/
It doesn't really come across all that well in the picture, but that's a massive skull. Although it's snout is short compared to that of Mosasaurus the skull is still approximately one and a half meters long, and higher and more robustly built.

The human eye doesn't mind these reflections as much as a photo lens
The natural light did cause quite a bit of reflection
All the it looks a little works for wear the skull is actually quite complete.

Not the best view, but it had the least reflections
Skull seen from the reverse angle
Like most Prognathodon Bèr has relatively few teeth, they are thick and wide slightly recurved. They reminded me of T. rex teeth actually, teeth made for crushing.

The snout would have been much wider in life
The skull is rather flattened

Prognathodon saturator had the strongest bite of any mosasaur, combined with teeth made for crushing. That makes it likely that giant sea turtles, like the almost 3 meter long Allopleuronwere an important part of it's diet.

The displaced right jaw is clearly visible here
The reason the mosasaur skull is displayed in this way is not because it shows what it looked like in situ, although that is a nice side-effect, but because the bones are too fragile to be removed from the surrounding limestone

The major elements of the skull
  1. Left upper jaw
  2. Right upper jaw
  3. Left lower jaw
  4. Right lower jaw
  5. Eye-hole
  6. Neck
  7. Tail vertebra
  8. Rib
  9. Quadrate bone
There's still more in the Mosaleum that I haven't covered, but that will have to wait for now.

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