Facts about Plesiosaurs, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Plesiosaurs

Plesiosaurs



Plesiosaur
Click here for more Plesiosaur Pictures

Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Chordata
  Class Sauropsida
  Superorder Sauropterygia
  Order Plesiosauria
  Suborder Plesiosauroidea
Plesiosaurs were a group of aquatic reptiles that lived in both marine and freshwater environments. They evolved during the early Jurassic period or late Triassic period, from Nothosaurs, and went extinct during the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction.

Plesiosaurs had a broad body, short tail, and four limb flippers. The term "Plesiosaur" includes the so-called "true Plesiosaurs", which had a long necks, and the Pliosaurs which had shorter necks and a larger head. Plesiosaurs varied greatly in size, the adults varying between 10 feet (3 meters) and 66 feet (20 meters) in length, depending on the particular species. Perhaps the most remarkable are the family of Plesiosaurs known as "Elasmosauridae", which includes species such as Elasmosaurus and Thalassomedon, who had necks that made up half or more of the length of the creature.

Plesiosaurs are often drawn with their necks positioned upwards in a swan-like posture. However, this is now thought to be unlikely to be an accurate depiction - it is thought they necks were probably not flexible enough to do this, and, in any case, such a posture would probably have tipped them over.

In life, Plesiosaurs are believed to have been the top ("apex") predators of the oceans. It is thought perhaps they swam slowly below the surface of the water, and then used their long necks to position to snap up fish or cephalopods. Stones have been found in the stomach area of some Plesiosaurs (including Thalassomedon), and it is thought perhaps that these were used as ballast and/or as an aid to digestion (similar to gizzard stones in modern birds being used to grind up food).

The first recorded Plesiosaur fossils were found in England - these include a partial skeleton found by Stukely in Nottinghamshire in 1719, and others found by Mary Anning. As a result of this, an impressive collection of Plesiosaur fossils are now found in the Natural History Museum and London.

A number of alleged lake monsters (animals supposedly living in freshwater lakes) are sometimes claimed to be living Plesiosaurs. These include Champ which supposedly lives in Lake Champlain in the United States, Ogopogo which supposedly lives in Lake Okanagan in Canada, and most famously of all, Nessie which supposedly lives in Loch Ness in Scotland. Mainstream scientists are generally skeptical of these claims for a variety of reasons including lack of physical evidence, the lakes are generally too small to support a viable breeding population, the lakes are often too cold, and bodies of dead animals have not been found. Cryptozoologists (people who search for rumored or mythical creatures whose existence is uncertain), and of course tourists to these areas, however continue to look for these creatures.

Plesiosaurs Timeline:



Plesiosaurs were marine reptiles that lived between 228 and 65 million years ago

Plesiosaurs were marine reptiles that lived between 228 and 65 million years ago


Related Information & Resources


See Also

Plesiosaur Books


Here are some books from Amazon.com:

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Ancient Animals: Plesiosaur
By Sarah L. Thomson

Charlesbridge
Released: 2017-07-18
Hardcover (32 pages)

Ancient Animals: Plesiosaur
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Product Description:
Ninety million years ago, giant dinosaurs roamed the earth, pterosaurs flew through the air, and giant reptiles and fish hunted in the oceans. The area that is now Kansas was covered by water and one of its inhabi-tants was the plesiosaur—a reptile with an extremely long neck and a huge body.

This early reader about the ancient plesiosaur brings the prehistoric world of this ocean-dwelling animal to life, explain-ing how scientists think these reptiles lived, hunted, and became extinct. Back matter explores other reptiles both ancient and modern and provides additional print, visual, and web resources.
Plesiosaur Peril (Tales of Prehistoric Life)
By Daniel Loxton

Kids Can Press
Released: 2014-03-01
Hardcover (32 pages)

Plesiosaur Peril (Tales of Prehistoric Life)
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Product Description:
In the Tales of Prehistoric Life series, award-winning author and illustrator Daniel Loxton uses stunningly realistic, state-of-the-art, computer-generated images to vividly re-create the undersea world of the Jurassic period. Featured here are creatures called plesiosaurs, marine reptiles distantly related to land-based dinosaurs. We follow the tale of a baby Cryptoclidus, a type of plesiosaur, whose curiosity about her new world in the ocean leads her to wander away from her mother and the rest of her protective pod. As the baby happily explores and plays, she is suddenly confronted by an enormous Liopleurodon, a predatory and much larger plesiosaur. In a highly dramatic scene, the baby, with the help of the rest of her pod, makes a narrow escape from becoming the Liopleurodon's dinner.

The exciting adventure story and high-impact digital illustrations, each covering a two-page spread, will captivate children of this age, particularly boys, who are huge fans of prehistoric animals. But the book is also a terrific source of factual scientific information about the lives of plesiosaurs, their ocean habitat, the ocean's other inhabitants and the ways these creatures interacted with each other. As a special bonus, there is an information page describing these plesiosaurs at the back of the book. With its photo-realistic illustrations, this book would make an excellent resource for life science lessons on prehistoric animals and their environments, evolution and how modern scientists use their discoveries to make deductions about the animals of the distant past.
Plesiosaurs (Exploring Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures)
By Susan H. Gray

Core Learning Library
Released: 2014-01-01
Kindle Edition (32 pages)

Plesiosaurs (Exploring Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures)
 
Product Description:
Sharp teeth and excellent hunting and swimming skills made plesiosaurs dangerous additions to prehistoric oceans. Young readers will get a glimpse of what life was like for these fierce predators as they scoured the waves in search of their next meal.
Swimming with the Plesiosaur (Dinosaur Cove)
By Rex Stone

Scholastic Paperbacks
Mass Market Paperback (80 pages)

Swimming with the Plesiosaur (Dinosaur Cove)
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Product Description:
Everyone is digging this dino-mite adventure series!

Tom and Jamie can't believe their luck when they find a secret entrance to a prehistoric world filled with dinosaurs! They vow to have a new adventure every day.

Loaded with snorkeling gear, the boys decide to explore the cove itself. They have fun with the dolphin-like ichthyosaurs in the bay, and even tempt Wanna out into the water. But there are some not-so-friendly creatures lurking, including a hungry plesiosaur that wants a snack! Can the boys save their dinosaur friends-and themselves-from the deadliest creature in the prehistoric ocean?
Plesiosaurus (Dinosaurs Ruled!)
By Leigh Rockwood

PowerKids Press
Paperback (24 pages)

Plesiosaurus (Dinosaurs Ruled!)
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The early Jurassic period was not just a time when giant reptiles roamed the land. They also swam in the prehistoric seas. Plesiosaurus, with its long, thin neck and paddle-like limbs, was one of the large marine reptiles that lived at this time. Full-color images and interesting, accessible text will help students find out more about what life might have been like for this underwater creature that could grow to a whopping 16 feet in length.
Dinosaurs!!! Kid's Book About Plesiosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods (Also known as Plesiosaurus) (Awesome Facts & Pictures for Kids about Dinosaurs 5)
By Nathanial E J Hogan

Electronic Desktop Solutions Pty Ltd
Released: 2014-02-23
Kindle Edition (12 pages)

Dinosaurs!!! Kid s Book About Plesiosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods (Also known as Plesiosaurus) (Awesome Facts & Pictures for Kids about Dinosaurs 5)
 
Product Description:
Plesiosaurs! Plesiosaurus!!

By Nathanial E J Hogan Age 8, "Dinosaurs!!! Kid's Book About Plesiosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods (Also known as Plesiosaurus).
Awesome Facts & Pictures for Kids about Dinosaurs" is an awesome non-fiction ebook with many colourful pictures that look great on Kindles, Ipads, mobiles and many other tablet-style hand-held devices.

The facts are presented in easy to read 'bite-sized' sections accompanied by a picture to help children not only learn about Plesiosaurs but to also enjoy reading about these famous dinosaurs. A perfect way for kids of all ages to learn.

"...Plesiosaurs.." is also great for parents to read to children who are not yet ready to read for themselves. This gives parents a great opportunity to discuss their children's favourite subject with them and to explain things further.

Dinosaurs have always stimulated the imagination of kids and what better way to start your kids' interest in dinosaurs than with this easy to read guide with dinosaur pictures. They'll be roaring with delight!
Night of the Living Dead Plesiosaurs
By Scott Mardis

Released: 2019-03-27
Kindle Edition

Night of the Living Dead Plesiosaurs
 
Product Description:
An inquiry into Post-Cretaceous Marine Reptile Anomalies and related phenomena.
Dinosaur Cove #8: Swimming with the Plesiosaur by Rex Stone (Nov 1 2009)
Scholastic Paperbacks
Mass Market Paperback

Dinosaur Cove #8: Swimming with the Plesiosaur by Rex Stone (Nov 1 2009)
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Product Description:
Excellent Book
Saurus Street 5: A Plesiosaur Broke My Bathtub
By Nick Falk

Random House Australia
Released: 2013-08-28
Kindle Edition (105 pages)

Saurus Street 5: A Plesiosaur Broke My Bathtub
 
Product Description:
Saurus Street is just like any other street . . . except for the dinosaurs!

Thomas's grandparents house is ancient. There's no electricity, and the toilet is a creaky old cabin outside. Thomas is terrified of that toilet. There's something down there . . .

And when Thomas gets too close and falls down the hole, he discovers a secret that will change Saurus Street forever.

Plunging pterosaurs, squiggling squid and massive meteors are all part of the greatest adventure since the Cretaceous period!
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure
By National Geographic Society

National Geographic Children's Books
Released: 2008-05-27
Hardcover (12 pages)

Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure
List Price: $24.95*
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Handle with extreme caution—the sea monsters of National Geographic's 3-D Large Format Film jump off the pages of this stunning pop-up companion book! Open any page for a dramatic demonstration of the most ferocious animals to ever stalk the Earth. Replicated from the film's cutting-edge, computer-generated images, the book's pop-up monsters leap into life at every opportunity. These breathtaking, paper-engineered images and foldouts will thrill readers of all ages. Behold the Styxosaurus, the stealthy hunter with the 20-foot neck; then dig up the fossils of these and other fascinating prehistoric sea creatures in informative lift-the-flap dig sites. Learn cool facts about paleontology and the fossil hunters who piece together the history of sea monsters. This visually eye-popping book explains the science behind the super-sized stars of this amazing film.


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