Creature Feature from Rextooth Studios!

May 3, 2024
The Earth is four and a half billion years old. 

Complex life developed five hundred and eighty million years ago. 

In that time our planet has been home to some truly amazing animals and has been the stage for incredible dramas and adventures. 

Rextooth Studios is a publisher telling stories about the awesome creatures that have called - and still do call - our planet home. 

Welcome to Creature Feature from Rextooth Studios!

In the 1800’s the bones of a massive sea creature were discovered. Scientists thought the bones belonged to a reptile, a relative of the mosasaurs and plesiosaurs of the mesozoic. They named this sea serpent Basilosaurus, the ‘king lizard.’

As it turns out, they were… not quite right.

To understand this sea serpent of Victorian imagination, we must understand where it came from, and what branch it calls home on the tree of life.

Eons ago, some fish turned their fins into legs and colonized the land. Evolution turned them into the four-limbed tetrapods. They became amphibians, synapsids, mammals…


Throughout the Mesozoic - more than 180 million years - reptiles reigned. Flying reptiles soared the skies. Others returned to dominate the sea. And dinosaurs ruled the Earth. 

Until the cosmos put an end to the Age of Reptiles.

From the ashes of the Mesozoic, mammals would rise to claim the spotlight. And, like the reptiles before them, some of them would go on to return to the water.

For a few million years, the proto-cetaceans lived like big otter-crocs in lakes, rivers, and coastlines. But they couldn’t conquer the open oceans like this.

The seas were, after all, a dangerous place for the seal-sized whale-ancestors.

The real Basilosaurus was the first mammal to rule the prehistoric seas, cruising onto the scene about 41 million years ago. At sixty feet long, it’s truly whale-sized, and its seventy-odd vertebrae give Basilosaurus a characteristic ‘super-eel” body. 

The apex predator of the Eocene oceans, for nearly ten million years, Basilosaurus prowled the waves from Mississippi to Morocco. 

It ate fish, sharks, and even other whales - a fact illustrated by Basilosaurus tooth-marks on the fossils of it’s smaller cousin Dorudon, found at the famous Wadi El Hitan ( the “Valley of the Whales”) in Egypt.

Despite its power and prowess, the mighty hunter is something of an evolutionary dead end. The stretched-out, super-eel body plan died out with Basilosaurus. Modern whales went in a different direction.

They went down the path that Dorudon set them on. Though a close relative of Basilosaurus, Dorudon was built much more like a modern whale. Dorudon and its close relatives are the best candidates we have for the common ancestors to both today’s toothed and baleen whales.

So it’s a good thing for today's cetaceans that Dorudon escaped the Eocene apex predator once in a while.


Basilosaurus can be seen in;

50 MILLION YEARS OF WHALES by Ted Rechlin, 2020

SHARKS: A 400 MILLION YEAR JOURNEY by Ted Rechlin, 2017 

Thanks for joining us on this brief swim through an ancient ocean. Join us next time as we prowl from Patagonia up to Canada with one of the most famous fossil felines to ever live.