29 March 2013
The Smallest Mosasaur
At between 7 and 12 feet (2 and 4 meters), Clidastes is the smallest of the mosasaurs; the longest specimen discovered is approximately 20 feet (6.2 meters) long. Like last week's smaller plesiosaur Dolichorhynchops, Clidastes' smaller size, in part, led to a faster mosasaur capable of chasing down quick prey with relative ease. Clidastes had special adaptations that, with the smaller more compact size of the reptile, allowed for strong muscles to be attached to the body in key areas, such as the tail, that would have generated massive amounts of propulsion for this animal. We can look at those adaptations over the week as well as looking at exactly what a Clidastes would be chasing down and chomping into as well. Clidastes, it is important to note, is a genus comprised of 3 accepted species (the 4th Clidastes moorevillensis, remaining doubtful at the moment): C. propython Cope, 1869; C. iguanavus Cope, 1868; and C. liodontus Merriam, 1894. Clidastes propython was named after C. iguanavus but is considered the neotype. Clidastes was discovered, originally, in Alabama, but has since been recovered from many other areas that were once near-shore environments of the Western Interior Seaway including, maybe most notably, the soils of Kansas; though I could be biased seeing as how I am in Kansas these days.