When we think of dinosaurs, the first images that often come to mind are those of towering terrestrial beasts. However, some of the most fascinating dinosaur species were not land-dwellers but swam in the ancient seas. One such creature is the Elasmosaurus, a long-necked marine reptile that has captivated the imaginations of paleontologists and dinosaur enthusiasts alike.
The Elasmosaurus: An Overview
The Elasmosaurus belongs to the family of Plesiosaurs, a group of extinct marine reptiles known for their distinct body structure. The name “Elasmosaurus” translates to ‘thin plate lizard,’ derived from its thin, flat vertebrae. It was a long neck underwater dinosaur, or more accurately, a marine reptile, with an incredibly elongated neck comprising nearly half its total body length.
Elasmosaurus Size and Appearance
Measuring up to 34 feet long, the Elasmosaurus was an impressive sight. Its most striking feature was undoubtedly its extraordinarily long neck, which could stretch up to 18 feet and contained about 72 vertebrae. This is the highest number of neck vertebrae of any known animal, living or extinct. Its small head was equipped with sharp teeth perfect for catching fish and squid, its presumed primary diet. Its four flippers propelled it through the water, and its short tail aided in steering.
Plesiosaur Habitat: Where Did the Elasmosaurus Live?
The Elasmosaurus was a marine creature, meaning it lived in the ocean. Fossils of this long neck water dinosaur have been found primarily in North America, suggesting that it inhabited the Western Interior Seaway, a large inland sea that split the continent during the Late Cretaceous period.
Elasmosaurus vs Plesiosaurus: What’s the Difference?
Many people often confuse the Elasmosaurus with its relative, the Plesiosaurus. While both belong to the Plesiosauria group, they are different species. The main difference lies in their neck length and body size. The Plesiosaurus was smaller and had a shorter neck compared to the Elasmosaurus. Additionally, the Plesiosaurus lived earlier, during the Jurassic period, while the Elasmosaurus appeared later, in the Cretaceous period.
How to Pronounce Plesiosaur
If you’re having trouble with the pronunciation, don’t worry; you’re not alone. ‘Plesiosaur’ is pronounced as ‘plee-see-o-sawr’. Now you can impress your friends with not only your extensive knowledge about these fascinating creatures but also your perfect pronunciation!
Facts About the Plesiosaur and Elasmosaurus
Both the Plesiosaur and the Elasmosaurus were excellent swimmers. Their four paddle-like limbs allowed them to move through the water with speed and grace, much like modern-day sea turtles. They were carnivorous, feeding on fish, mollusks, and other small marine animals. Interestingly, despite their long necks, it’s believed that they couldn’t lift their heads very high out of the water due to the weight and structure of their vertebrae.
Elasmosaurus in Popular Culture
The Elasmosaurus has made appearances in various forms of media, including the popular franchise Jurassic World. While these depictions often take creative liberties, they have undoubtedly contributed to the popularity and recognition of this long-necked marine reptile.
Albertonectes: A Close Relative
Another member of the Plesiosaur family worth mentioning is the Albertonectes, which, like the Elasmosaurus, was known for its long neck. In fact, Albertonectes holds the record for the longest neck of any plesiosaur, boasting an impressive 76 vertebrae!
The Elasmosaurus is a testament to the incredible diversity of life during the age of dinosaurs. Its unique adaptations for life in the water set it apart from many other prehistoric creatures. From its extraordinary size to its diet and habitat, every Elasmosaurus fact we uncover helps us better understand