Packing what may be the world's biggest bite, a recently revealed "sea monster" would have given Jaws a run for its money.
Put on display July 8 at the U.K.'s Dorset County Museum, the 7.9-foot-long (2.4 meter-long) skull (pictured) belonged to a pliosaur, a type of plesiosaur that had a short neck, a huge, crocodile-like head, and razor-sharp teeth. When alive about 155 million years ago, the seagoing creature would have had a strong enough bite to snap a car in half, according to the museum.
Amateur collector Kevan Sheehan found the skull in pieces between 2003 and 2008 at the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, a 95-mile (152-kilometer) stretch of fossil-rich coastline in England. The Dorset County Council's museums service purchased the fossil, and later research by University of Southampton scientists suggests that it's the largest complete pliosaur skull ever found. (Explore a National Geographic magazine sea monsters interactive.)
Yet Hans Sues, a paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., cautioned in an email that it's too early to say if the skull is indeed the largest.
"Some pliosaurs are gigantic animals, and there is an unfortunate tendency to brand every new find as the largest," said Sues, who is also a contributor to the National Geographic News Watch blog. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)
"However, no evidence is ever presented to support these claims, which make for good media coverage but are scientifically unwarranted."