Friday, June 1, 2012

Pleurosaurus

Pleurosaurus
A long, long time ago we talked about the Tuatara-- the last living reptiles that belong to an incredibly ancient Order that dates to the Mesozoic. Though only two species of Tuatara survive today, there were once several other different Sphenodontians roaming the planet, and today's animal is one of them.

Meet Pleurosaurus, a very snake like reptile that lived an aquatic lifestyle in what are now the lakes of Western Europe. Pleurosaurus was a small little guy, measuring only about 2ft long, and its entire body was streamlined for marine hunting efficiency. They had incredibly thin bodies, very short appendages, and a long, powerful tail. They most likely swam in an undulating motion, as Sea Snakes do, and probably didn't use their small arms much at all.

Pleurosaurus also had nostrils that were placed closer to their eyes than to their snout. This adaptation probably allowed them to hunt fish easier in the shallow lakes where they lived.

Fossils of the species were first found in Bavaria, Germany in the 1830s. They date back to the late Jurassic Period, around 150 million years ago.

Status : Extinct since the Late Jurassic - 150 million years
Location : Western Europe
Size : Length up to 2ft (61cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Sauropsida -- Order : Sphenodontia
Family : Pleurosauridae -- Genus : Pleurosaurus

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