Box #10 in our count down is Dakosaurus…
Dakosaurus: the “Biter Lizard”
Dakosaurus was a large crocodile cousin specialized for a life in late Jurassic seas. Its fossils have been found all over Europe, including Russia, France, Poland, and Germany, and discovered as far southwest as Argentina and Mexico. The powerful jaws of serrated teeth and relatively short, tall head give this reptile an unusually dinosaur-shaped head. This, plus its fearsome reputation as a top predator of several fossil formations (including the Solnhofen of Germany), gave it the popular nickname of “Godzilla of the Jurassic seas” by the media.
Dakosaurus was every bit as big as the largest saltwater crocodile today, but it was entirely adapted to a life at sea. Its legs were more like flippers, and some speculate that it may have lived its entire life in the water. Perhaps it even gave birth like ichthyosaurs were known to do, after all, there are many groups of animals that developed the ability to have live young independently. There is just no fossil to prove it either true or false yet.
Dakosaurus’ fluked tail allowed it to be a powerful swimmer, while the legs helped it steer through the water. Some sources show detailed images of skin impressions from an animal that is an unspecified species of Dakosaurus, and the skin is smooth as one sees in whales, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs.
With all these adaptations as an apex predator, it could tear into large animals like ichthyosaurs with its jaws and bite off chunks like a shark. By comparison, most crocodilians must bite and then spin their bodies in a barrel roll to tear off pieces of meat. In many ways, Dakosaurus can be compared to the great mosasaurs that lurked in Cretaceous oceans. They, too, had ancestors that began life on land or partially on land, and then mastered life in the open water.