Museum of Natural History Mosasaurus
Imagine….. 60 - 70 millions years ago….. the Cretaceous period. The Netherlands and Maastricht were on the bottom of the sea. Huge monsters, named Mosasaurus, were swimming in the sea....... Newspaper article, April 2015: On April 18th 2015 the remains of another huge prehistoric Mosasaurus (Meuse Lizard) were found in the ENCI (cement factory) chalk quarry in the St. Pietersberg, Maastricht, the Netherlands, by a 14 years old boy named Lars and his father. Since 1774 this is the sixth Mosasaurus found in the hill (close by Andre's castle!!). Three of the relics (and we guess the fourth will be added soon) can be seen in the Museum of Natural History in Maastricht. Address: De Bosquetplein 7.
From Wikipedia: Mosasaurus is a genus of Mosasaur, carnivorous, aquatic lizard, somewhat resembling flippered crocodiles with elongated heavy jaws. The genus existed during the Maastrichtian age of the Cretaceous period (Mesozoic era), around 60-70 million years ago in the area of modern Western Europe and North America. The name means "Meuse lizard", since the first specimen was found near the Meuse River (Latin Mosa + Greek sauros lizard). As with most Mosasaurs, their legs and feet are modified into hydrofoil-like flippers, with the front limbs being larger than the rear limbs. Mosasaurus reached lengths of about 13 - 18 meters (59 ft), somewhat longer than its American relatives Tylosaurus and Hainosaurus. However, Mosasaurus was more robust than the somewhat smaller sized Tylosaurine Mosasaurs. Mosasaurus was among the last mosasaur genera, and among the largest. The skull was more robustly built than in other Mosasaurs, as the mandibles articulated very tightly with the skull. It had a deep, barrel- shaped body, and with its fairly large eyes, poor binocular vision, and poorly developed olfactory bulbs, experts believe that Mosasaurus lived near the ocean surface, where it preyed on fish, turtles, ammonites, and possibly smaller Mosasaurs. The animal remained near the surface and although it was able to dive, it evidentially did not venture into deeper waters. The skull of Mosasaurus is tapered off into a short, conical process, and the jaws were armed with massive, sharp, conical teeth. Their paddle-like limbs had five digits in the front and four in the back. The trunk terminated in a strong tail which, together with serpentine undulation of the whole body, contributed far more to the animal's locomotion than did the limbs.
1764: The first Mosasaurus, genus of mosasaur to be named. The first remains found by scientists were a fragmentary skull from a chalk quarry in the St. Pietersberg, a hill near Maastricht, the Netherlands, found in 1764 and collected by lieutenant Jean Baptiste Drouin in 1766. It was procured for the Teylers Museum at Haarlem in 1784. The first director of the museum published its description only in 1790. He considered it to be a species of "big breathing fish" (Pisces cetacei, in other words: a whale). It is still part of the collection as TM 7424. At some time between 1770 and 1774 a second partial skull was discovered and unearthed. It was found in the grounds owned by canon Theodorus Joannes Godding, who displayed it in his country house on the slope of the St. Pietersberg hill. A local retired German/Dutch army physician, Johann Leonard Hoffmann (1710–1782), also collected some fragments and corresponded about the skull with Dutch Professor Petrus Camper. Hoffmann presumed the animal was a crocodile. In 1786 however, Camper disagreed and concluded the remains were those of "an unknown toothed whale”. Maastricht, an important fortress city, was captured by the French revolutionary armies towards the end of 1794. Accompanying the French troops, although arriving in Maastricht two months after the city had been taken, was geologist Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond on a mission to secure the piece, together with political commissar Augustin-Lucie de Frécine (1751–1804), who during the campaign tried to transport anything of artistic or scientific value he could lay his hands on to France. Finding that it had been removed from the cottage and hidden within the fortress, Frécine would have offered "six hundred bottles of excellent wine" to those being the first to locate the skull and bring it to him in one piece. Soon a dozen grenadiers would have claimed their reward, carrying the piece with them. In December 1794 it was moved to Paris as a war booty, by decree declared a national heritage and added to the collection of the new Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris.
In 1998 another skeleton was discovered in the ENCI quarry. It was so big that it did not fit in the Museum. A glass box was built in the Museum's garden for this one, named Bèr after its finder. On September 19, 2012, it was announced that nine days earlier, again a skeleton of what appears to be a Mosasaur was found in the limestone quarry just outside Maastricht, the same quarry that yielded the type specimen of Mosasaurus hoffmannii. Carlo Brauer, an excavator operator at the ENCI quarry, discovered the teeth of the fossil in the shovel of his digger on Monday morning, September 10. In the days following the discovery, museum staff retrieved several large sections of the skull and part of the body and tail of the approximately 13-meters long skeleton. Based on stratigraphy, the age of the specimen was estimated at 67.83 million years, making it about one-and-a-half million years older than "Bèr". From what has been uncovered, this appears to be the oldest known specimen of Mosasaurus hoffmannii or a closely related species. The specimen is nicknamed Carlo, after the ENCI worker who discovered it. On April 18th 2015 the remains of another huge prehistoric Mosasaurus were found in the ENCI chalk quarry in the St. Pietersberg, by a 14 years old boy named Lars and his father. The skeleton will be procured by and displayed in the Museum of Natural History in Maastricht. This specimen is nicknamed Lars, after the boy who discovered it. It will be the fourth in the Museum, all named after their discoverers: Bèr, Carlo, Kristine and Lars. Museum of Natural History: De Bosquetplein 7 Maastricht http://nhmmaastricht.nl/home.html museum@maastricht.nl
ENCI limestone quarry St. Peter’s mountain. Maastricht. More about the ENCI cement factory and quarry in “Walk across the St. Pietersberg” under “City Walks”.
Charcoal drawing in Grotten Noord. (North Caves).
ENCI quarry 2016: After 100 years of having extracted the limestone /sandstone/ marl from the St. Peters mountain, the ENCI cement factory will definately stop the extraction in 2018. The quarry will be transformed into a tourist attraction and natural area, with walking routes and a swimming pond with a beach. Maybe it is still possible to find fossils there.
In 2016 we visited the Museum of National History and there was “Lars”, ready to be freed from the sandstone (picture to the left). You may follow the progress in the museum, from behind a window.
In 2016 the first attraction was built: a floating panoramic viewpoint over the quarry. In April 2017 the stairs into the quarry were finished and the quarry was officially opened to the public. There is a walking route in the quarry. Next project: the natural swimming pond with a beach. In the quarry it is always a few degrees warmer than outside. Address: Luikerstraat 80, Maastricht.
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