Placodonts were a group of marine reptiles that
lived during the Triassic period
and went extinct at the end of that period. They are usually classified with the
superorder Sauropterygia, which if correct, would mean that they are related to
A typical Placodont was about 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) in length, although the largest
Placodonts were perhaps 10 feet (3 meters) long. Some Placodonts resembled rather stout-looking
lizards with short limbs, whereas other had bony plates on their back, giving them a more
turtle-like appearance. Placodonts were generally heavy, especially those with armour plating,
and this, together with the types of desposits in which their
fossils are found, suggests that they
probably lived in shallow water environments.
Placodonts are believed to have eaten shellfish such as molluscs and brachiopods. They had
large flat teeth that were well suited for this purpose - and it was based on this characteristic
that Edward D. Cope
chose the name "Placodont" in 1871 - it means "tablet teeth".
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