Cranial palaeopathologies in a Late Cretaceous mosasaur from the Netherlands

Dylan Bastiaans, Jeroen J.F. Kroll, Dirk Cornelissen, John W.M. Jagt, Anne S. Schulp

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Here we describe multiple pathological skeletal elements in a specimen assigned to a globidensine mosasaur as Prognathodon cf. sectorius. This individual, NHMM 2012 072, was recovered from the upper Lixhe 3 Member (Gulpen Formation, upper Maastrichtian) near Maastricht, the Netherlands. In all likelihood, it was bitten in the snout by a large, possibly conspecific mosasaur – and survived this attack. The specimen described here is among the very few with clear and unambiguous evidence of (very likely intraspecific) agonistic interactions amongst mosasaurs. Despite significant injuries, including partial amputation of the premaxilla, this animal initially recuperated from the encounter, but the subsequent infectious processes as a result of this attack were still ongoing at the time of death. Radiological and morphological features suggest chronic osteomyelitis which led to loss of bone within the left maxilla, which probably hampered the ability to feed, potentially contributing to its demise. This case study illustrates the potential of integrative three-dimensional approaches in palaeopathological studies to provide a much more comprehensive and detailed description of alterations and underlying physiological processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104425
JournalCretaceous Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Intraspecific agonistic behaviour
  • Maastrichtian
  • Mosasaurs
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Palaeopathology
  • Trauma

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