STL Science Center

STL Science Center

21 August 2015

Taking Over the Ocean

After Ichthyosaurus and their kin "took over" the ocean from the largest sharks and fish it was really only a matter of time until a bigger and more fearsome animal came along. There was actually a two pronged assault on the apex predator title of the ocean; later it would become a three tine fork as mosasaurs began to populate the ocean. However, the first assault on that role by a second marine reptile taxon was seen in the form of animals like Plesiosaurus. Plesiosauria existed in two general bauplans: long neck and short neck variations. The short necked members of the group were fast, maneuverable, and mobile whereas the longer necked, more basal members, appear to have been slower and more cumbersome. The name-bearer for the group, Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus Conybeare 1824, is probably one of the most iconic marine reptiles in existence. In modern and archaic illustrations it is easily identifiable and beautiful.

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