Ancient Marine Creature, A Thalattosaur Found in Alaska, Is A Paleontological Revelation

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Discovered back in 2011, the so-called Gunakadeit Joseeae needed several years of fossil preparation at the UA Museum of the North to get cleaned up and ready for study. Then, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists have identified it as a new species of thalattosaur, an ancient marine creature.

The thalattosaur

The thalattosaur was a marine reptile that lived more than 200 million years ago in the area of a seashore that is covered at high tide and uncovered at low tide. It grew to over 4 meters in length, including a long, flattened tail used in underwater propulsion. It superficially resembles lizards. The most unusual features are their snouts. They were first mentioned by paleontology at the beginning of the last century.

It used to live on land, but developed adaptation skills that made it survive in the equatorial oceans worldwide. This the reason scientists believe took them to extinction, the moment the sea levels dropped, and food sources changed. The thalattosaur lived before the dinosaurs’ era and were extinct near the end of the Triassic.

Meet the Gunakadeit Joseeae

It seems that Gunakadeit Joseeae is a relatively primitive type of thalattosaur that survived late into the existence of the group. The fossil was found on May 18, 2011, in Southeast Alaska, located in rocks in the intertidal zone. The site is typically underwater all but a few days a year.

This made the extraction of the rock a race against the clock. They only had two days to do it, before the waters covered it for a year. They barely pulled it through.

Gene Primaky, the office’s information technology professional in Keku, was the first man to see it. This is why he became the godfather of the thalattosaur’s fossil. He named it after his mother: Joseeae. The other name, Gunakadeit, was given to honor the local culture and history, elders in Kake. Gunakadeit is a sea monster of the Tlingit legend, an ancient sea creature that was believed to bring good fortune to those who see it.

Tiesha loves to share her passion for everything that’s beautiful in this world. Apart from writing on her beauty blog and running her own beauty channel on Youtube, she also enjoys traveling and photography. Tiesha covers various stories on the website.