"I stake my life the rest of the animal is there."
Scientists were shocked after pulling out the massive skull of a "colossal sea monster" from the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast near Dorset, UK.
The mammoth skull, which as the BBC reports measures a fearsome six feet and five inches across, likely once belonged to a marine reptile called a pliosaur, which roamed the oceans around 150 million years ago.
Scientists were surprised by just how intact the skull remains to this day, making it an incredibly rare opportunity to get a better idea of how the marine giant once lived and how it devoured its prey.
"It's one of the best fossils I've ever worked on," local paleontologist Steve Etches told the BBC. "What makes it unique is it's complete."
Pliosaurs grew to around 40 feet in length. Thanks to their massive maws of razor-sharp teeth, they could tear its prey into pieces with ease, making it an apex predator in the ocean.
"The animal would have been so massive that I think it would have been able to prey effectively on anything that was unfortunate enough to be in its space," Bristol University paleobiology PhD student Andre Rowe told the BBC.
"I have no doubt that this was sort of like an underwater T-Rex," he added.
Pliosaurs were able to generate an estimated 33,000 newtons with their massive jaws. That's roughly twice the amount of force of a saltwater crocodile's jaw and two-thirds of the bite force of a T-rex.
"If you can generate a really powerful bite, you can incapacitate your prey; it's less likely to get away," University of Bristol palaeobiologist Emily Rayfield told the BBC. "A powerful bite means you're also able to crunch through tissue and bone quite effectively."
The skull was discovered by fossil enthusiast Phil Jacobs, who spotted the tip of the snout poking out of a sheer cliff face along the Jurassic Coast, an area along England's southern coast known to be filled with the fossilized remains of various creatures embedded in its rock.
It took an international team of scientists months to recover the massive skull, which had to be extricated from the surrounding rock while rappelling 50 feet above the beach.
But what about the rest of the beast?
"I stake my life the rest of the animal is there," Etches told the broadcaster, adding that the "very rapidly eroding environment" could reveal more bones in the future.
More on sea monsters: "UFO-Like" Sea Creature Made up of "Millions of Clones"
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