The fossil pliosaurus Luskhan itilensis, originally from the Cretaceous period, whose skeleton was discovered in 2002 on the banks of the Volga River in the Ulyanovsk region, has become one of the most well-studied pliosaurs in the world and the only one with a complete virtual reconstruction. A detailed description of the ancient sea lizard was presented by a group of scientists from Russia, Great Britain and Belgium, publishing an article in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

The skeleton of a pliosaur, which was almost completely extracted from the ground, was discovered in sediments about 130 million years old. The study of the remains took more than 10 years.

The name Luskhan itilensis (luskhan), given to the lizard, recalls Luskhan, the ruler of the host spirits of reservoirs from Mongolian mythology, as well as the ancient name of the Volga — Itil. Thus, the ancient animal received the formidable title of "lord of the Volga waters". And it is not surprising — the length of the lizard skeleton reaches 6.5 m, of which 1.6 m is occupied by one skull!

The research conducted by scientists allowed us to identify some unique distinctive features of luskhan as a species of pliosaurs. In addition, experts have created the world's first virtual 3D reconstruction of the appearance of a sea lizard. The work on the project was carried out in several stages.

"An employee of the IPEE RAS, N.E. Prilepskaya, scanned all the bones of the Luskhan skeleton using a high—precision metrological 3D scanner Artec Space Spider, and then assembled their three-dimensional models," according to the website of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution. Next, the famous Russian paleosculptor Vlad Konstantinov "assembled" a complete pliosaur skeleton from virtual bone models, correcting distortions and adding missing fragments. A life-size printed copy of the skeleton of the "lord of the ancient seas" has become part of the new exhibition of the Undorovsky Paleontological Museum in the Volga region.

Source: A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The amazing pliosaurus from Russia has become the most studied in detail in the world

The source of the image on the preview: an illustration by A.A. Atuchin from the book by A.E. Nelikhov "When the Volga was the sea. Leviathans and Pilgrims" / A.E. Nelikhov, M.S. Arkhangelsky, A.V. Ivanov. – M.: University Book, 2018 / A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The information is taken from the portal "Scientific Russia" ( /)

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