Elasmosaurus (Elasmosaurus): description, characteristics, photo

Elasmosaurus (lat. Elasmosaurus “lizard with thin plates”) a giant plesiosaur of the late Cretaceous period (85-65 million years ago). Remains found in Kansas (USA), Russia and Japan. Reached a length of 15 meters, was first described by Edward Cope in 1868.

Received its name for the flat bones of the shoulder and pelvic girdle. In the long (up to 8 m) neck of Elasmosaurus, there were 32 76 vertebrae more than any other known animal. The lower part of the shoulder girdle and hip bones are stretched into wide, saucer-like structures, to which powerful muscles that control flippers are attached.

The longest-necked plesiosaurs are elasmosaurids, with the most famous genus of this family being Elasmosaurus. It is often figuratively described as a hybrid of a snake and a turtle more than half of the 14-meter length was accounted for by a thin, very flexible neck. He lived at the end of the Cretaceous period and was one of the last plesiosaurs. This entire group died out along with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

The incredibly long neck of Elasmosaurus retained strength and flexibility thanks to many short skeletal elements vertebrae, connected like beads. Most reptiles have from 5 to Yu. Early plesiosaurs have about 25. Elasmosaurus has over 70 neck vertebrae!

The head of Elasmosaurus is narrow and low, not much wider than the neck. Streamlined, with a pointed muzzle, she easily cut through the water. Long, thin teeth were not suitable for gnawing shells: they simply closed the prey’s exit from the mouth.

Judging by the mouth, the Elasmosaurus ate small things: fish, squid and ammonites in spiral shells. Obviously, it was difficult for the lizard to keep up with them, rowing with flippers, and it was necessary to work with a flexible neck, throwing its head, like a harpoon, into a flock of victims.

From time to time, elasmosaurs swam into shallow waters. Here they sank to the bottom and swallowed small smooth stones, which contributed to the crushing of food in the stomach and served as ballast. More than 250 such pebbles were found in the stomach of one Elasmosaurus.

The study of these stones showed that during the life of Elasmosaurs they traveled thousands of kilometers in the ocean, collecting pebbles and pebbles in various parts of the sea coast. Apparently, the cubs of elasmosaurs, like ichthyosaurs, were born in the sea.

It was previously believed that the Elasmosaurus swam on the surface, looking for prey from a height raising its head above the water on a long neck. Noticing a suitable victim, he “dive” at her with his open mouth made a lightning throw, like a snake grabbing a frog. However, this hypothesis is unlikely. The eyes of the lizard on the upper side of the head it is difficult to look down with them. It is much easier to aim at prey by diving under it, which he most likely did.

A fast-swimming plesiosauroid had to keep its neck stretched straight forward, otherwise it could be broken by the oncoming current. However, these lizards hardly had to hurry somewhere. They slowly scoured the sea, looking for fish and grabbing them one at a time. But they could spin like a top in place, rowing with fins on one side and rowing on the other!

In plesiosaurs, in addition to the usual ribs extending from the spine, there were abdominal, so-called gastralia, curving from the bottom up. This increased the rigidity of the torso, which became a strong support for powerful rowing muscles. For the same purpose, the bones of the shoulder and pelvic girdle turned into wide plates. Most of the short limbs were elongated hands and feet.

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