Opinion Brief

A 'jaw-dropping' look at the Earth's 'most fearsome predator'

If "Jaws" kept you out of the water, you might not want to know about the oceanic beast that could rip a car in half

The video: Modern-day predators like the shark have nothing on the creatures that once reigned the sea. The pliosaur, which was king of the waters 185 million years ago, may have been Earth's "most fearsome predator" ever. And now the largest and best-preserved fossil of the beast's skull is on view at the Dorset County Museum in Britain. The gigantic skull — found in the cliffs of England's Jurassic Coast — measures about 7.8 feet in length, which means the pliosaur was nearly 60 feet long. Though the rest of its body has never been found and may not even be fossilized, scientists believe it to have been a bulky thing equipped with four paddle-like limbs. It's an "extraordinary animal," said naturalist David Attenborough during the unveiling of the find (see the video below), "unlike anything else today." It had a brain the "size of a peanut," he said. "Just imagine a creature like that surging through the oceans." Here, the "jaw-dropping" look: 

The reaction: This thing was a "crocodile on steroids," says Rebecca Morelle at BBC News. With its razor-sharp teeth and "immensely powerful jaw muscles," it's easy to imagine it powering through the water devouring anything that crossed its path. One look at the gaping jaw bone will surely "raise the hairs on the back of your neck," says Paleontologist Richard Forrest at BBC News. "Forget Jaws," say the editors at Global Post, anyone who sees the remains of this "colossal marine reptile" will want to rule out frolicking off the coast of England, for good. But on the plus side, this "awesome creature" is sure to draw crowds to the museum. Here, the "jaw-dropping" look:

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