Bruce, Manitoba's famous ancient sea creature, has just become the largest of its kind on display anywhere in the world.
The 13.10-metre-long mosasaur, a now-extinct marine reptile, had been known as the largest in Canada, but recent comparative research has revealed his status is global, in terms of fossils on public display.
The research was done by the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (CFDC) in Morden, Man., where Bruce's fossils and a full-scale reproduction are on display.
“We knew Bruce was big, we knew he was the biggest in Canada, but we had never done a comparative analysis against other exhibited mosasaur throughout North America and the rest of the world,” said CFDC executive director Peter Cantelon.
“After doing a little research and consulting with mosasaur expert and Royal Tyrrell Museum palaeontologist Dr. Takuya Konishi, it turned out Bruce was even more significant than we realized.”
To celebrate, Bruce will be presented with a "World’s Largest Mosasaur" medal made by children from the CFDC’s Dino Day Camp.
The presentation will occur on Bruce's 80,000,040th birthday, on July 26, at noon.
The CFDC is encouraging everyone to visit Bruce and join in the birthday celebrations. There will be free cake at noon, face painting, water balloon toss and all activities for children throughout the day.
T. Rex of the sea
The mosasaur was a huge air-breathing, scaly skinned, flesh-eating lizard often called the T. Rex of the sea. The creatures swam in an inland sea during the Cretaceous Period, between 65 million and 135 million years ago, and were named after the Meuse River in Europe, close to where the first mosasaur discoveries were made.
“He's bigger than a T. Rex and just as scary," the CFDC states on its website about Bruce. "It's because of him that the Cretaceous seas were considered the most dangerous of all time."
The CFDC houses the largest collection of marine reptile fossils in Canada and the hills surrounding Morden are abundant in specimens.
In fact, Bruce is just one of many mosasaur fossils to be found in the region.
Bruce was discovered in 1974 near Thornhill, which is just west of Morden. Since then, paleontologists have unearthed the bones of several more mosasaur.
In 2004, the remains of a mosasaur nicknamed Betsy were first found and in 2006, pieces of another were discovered during a school dig by participants from the town of MacGregor. The specimen, nicknamed MacGregor, includes a jaw fragment, a vertebra and a rib fragment.
In 2008, an 11-metre-long mosasaur nicknamed Angus was found just north of where Bruce was located, while another was unearthed in 2010 and two more were uncovered in 2011.
Dig sites in southern Manitoba have also uncovered a prehistoric squid and bird fossils, giving scientists new insight into what Western Canada looked like 80 million years ago.