We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
I just finished reading the Wikipedia page about dinosaurs, and I very much enjoyed it. I knew that much of what I learned in the 80's as a child is (and was) incorrect, and now that I am a parent, I am excited to finally make some time to learn about this stuff.
It seems that a lot is known about ecosystems, socialization, and interactions between different species, herd behavior, and other interesting things.
Before I start reading books, I want to watch a good documentary. A quick google search turned up some suggested documentaries, but in general they seem to be either old or focused on a particular dinosaur, and not on the era in particular. All are short.
I watched the 10 hour documentary "The Life of Mammals" by David Attenborough a few years ago, and developed a much better understanding of how we as humans evolved, and how we are related to other mammals. I'd love it if there was something as extensive about Triassic/Jurassic/Cretaceous era dinosaurs. Is there something recent, extensive, and mostly correct?
Try Planet Dinosaur (2011) or Dinosaur Revolution (2011). Neither is as good as the original Walking with Dinosaurs trilogy, but both are relatively informative and entertaining at the same time.
Jurassic Park’s Unlikely Symbiosis With Real-World Science
Around 130 million years ago, a weevil gorged itself on wood pulp and died a sticky death in the relentless grasp of slow-moving resin. That weevil lived alongside the dinosaurs its death may even have occurred in the presence of brachiosaurus, which once ambled around the same forestland. But what mattered most to researchers who found it in the present day were the short, fragmentary strands of DNA they had managed to extract from the insect. This was, they believed, the oldest DNA ever recovered.
The prestigious science journal Nature published this breathtaking new discovery in June 1993, a single day before another momentous occasion: the release of Jurassic Park. It seemed like the perfect stroke of luck for famed director Steven Spielberg. The publicity came not from his studio’s $65 million promotional plan, but from real, legitimate scientists. (Whether the study’s release was a coincidence, or Nature timed the article to the movie is unclear, but it certainly seemed intentional to the public and the scientific community.)
“The effect was really important,” says science historian Elizabeth Jones, who is currently at work on a book on the story of Jurassic Park and ancient DNA. “It boosted ancient DNA as an early science. Something that people had never heard of suddenly became extremely popular.”
It was a prime example of how science and science fiction can collide in the real world—each can boost the other, and one realm can often nudge another in a different direction. While Jurassic Park may not have existed without prior scientific hypotheses, it also pushed that nascent science into the spotlight before it had withstood the necessary scrutiny by the rest of the scientific community.
The original source for the Spielberg thriller was a book by Michael Crichton, also called Jurassic Park. Thanks to Crichton’s reputation as a popular author, and a visceral story pitting the ingenuity of human scientists against their Frankenstein-like creations, the book had so much hype that studios were jockeying for rights to a film adaptation before it was even published in 1990. But Crichton didn’t pull the idea of out thin air. He’d been inspired by scientists, who were digging deep into the past in search of clues about life on Earth before the rise of Homo sapiens.
One of his first clues came from a study published in 1982 by entomologist George Poinar, Jr. and colleagues. The researchers examined a fossil fly found in amber thought to be 40 million years old, and suggested that the amber had preserved intracellular structures in what they deemed “an extreme form of mummification.” A colleague suggested that it might be possible to extract DNA from the specimen—providing scientists with the DNA of an ancient creature for the first time.
Crichton heard about the study, and within a decade a Hollywood film crew was visiting Poinar’s lab.
“Michael Crichton contacted us separately and flew out, and we talked to him. Very nice, tall person. Then, that was it,” Poinar told Science Friday in 2016. “The next thing we knew, the book was out and then the movie was out.” But if Poinar’s work influenced Crichton, the eventual manifestation of the author’s vision may have also influenced the scientist: Poinar and another researcher, Raul Cano, were the ones who published the 1993 study on the weevil.
But when Jones began her research on the origins of the Jurassic Park story, she came across something surprising. In one edition of Crichton’s book, the acknowledgement section thanked Poinar. In another edition, there’s a new name: Charles Pellegrino, a writer who published a story in 1985 called “Dinosaur Capsule” in the speculative fiction magazine Omni. That story also explored the possibility of bringing dinosaurs back to life by mining fossilized DNA.
“There’s a lot of controversy between Poinar and Pellegrino about who has priority to the Jurassic Park idea,” Jones said. “It goes back to the context of genetic engineering at the time, the hope and the hype but also the fear of what we could create.”
Following the release of the movie, scientists like Poinar and Raul Cano were both quick to point out that bringing dinosaurs back to life was impossible. But they were nevertheless swept up in the promise of what ancient DNA could reveal—and they were far from the only ones.
In fact, in 1992, both Cano’s team and a group of researchers out of the American Museum for Natural History (AMNH) published papers claiming to have extracted DNA from insects—an extinct bee and an extinct termite respectively—that lived 30 million years ago. Competition between the two groups for flashy breakthroughs was fierce.
When the 1993 study came out, David Grimaldi, a lead researcher for the AMNH team, expressed disapproval at the other team’s methods. The team had been forced to destroy the weevil, because part of its body was needed for the DNA-generating process, called polymerase chain reaction amplification or PCR. The technique, first developed in 1985, used a solution to make millions of copies of a small segment of DNA so that it could be sequenced and analyzed.
“We’re not interested in destroying specimens simply to break the record for finding the oldest DNA,” Grimaldi told the New York Times. “That weevil was probably unique, and now it’s at least partially destroyed, without a thorough analysis of its morphology that would have helped us to determine its place in evolution.”
But there was another problem with the process, aside from its destructiveness. That was how prone it was to contamination. Basically, if any DNA from the researchers themselves, or organisms in their labs—from bacteria to mold spores to traces of insect DNA—got into the solution, it threw off the results. And that problem was being encountered again and again as other scientists tried to replicate Cano’s astonishing result.
In 1997, a group of researchers conducted a series of experiments in which they tried and failed to obtain ancient DNA from numerous fossils, including bees and termites. Their results “bring other claims of amplifications from amber fossil insect specimens into question,” wrote author Kimberley Walden and colleagues at the time. As for Cano’s weevil, its DNA sample “cannot be replicated because it was a unique specimen and, in light of our results, is extremely questionable.”
A year later, another research team concluded that the DNA sequence supposedly obtained from the weevil came from fungal contamination. “Other amber-entombed and extant insect sequences obtained by this group have been called into question,” the researchers added in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. Researchers began backing away from previous claims about DNA extracted from insects in amber, and turning their attention elsewhere. It seemed the world had been too quick to jump at the promise of ancient DNA.
Martin Jones, author of the book Unlocking the Past: How Archaeologists are Rewriting Human History with Ancient DNA, summarized the sentiment thusly: “The excitement about new results had infected everyone, including the referees used by high-profile scientific journals … There was a palpable sense that the convoy of ancient DNA hunters should adopt a more cautious respect for the highway.”
Today, fossil findings in amber are still going strong. Last week, paleontologists at the Field Museum published a study on a new species of featherwing beetle that lived 99 million years ago, and was found encased in the golden depths of hardened resin. Christened Kekveus jason, the bug is barely the size of a period at the end of a sentence and shares morphological similarities with beetles alive today.
Notably, the scientists made no effort to extract DNA from the beetle. In fact, to this day, we’ve never extracted dino DNA. Part of the reason for that change in the field at large is because in 2012 researchers calculated DNA has a half-life of 521 years. That means all the DNA would be destroyed within 6.8 million years, if not much earlier. “It is impossible to extract DNA from specimens in amber even with the latest technologies,” said Shuhei Yamamoto, one of the authors of the new paper, by email. “Most people just describe the species like I do.”
But Jones doesn’t necessarily see the hype surrounding ancient DNA via Jurassic Park as a story of failure. “A lot of science is trial and error and finding out what we don’t know,” Jones says. “What makes ancient DNA and the story of Jurassic Park so interesting is that figuring out what ancient DNA could or couldn’t do wasn’t a private affair. Researchers were responding not just at their conferences and their peer review articles, but on a public platform.”
In other words, while the science might not have been right the first time around, it was still part of the exploration process. And for once, the public got a taste of what that debate looked like even as scientists were working out the finer details. So maybe ancient DNA can’t bring back the dinosaurs. But it still brings the tantalizing promise of resurrecting more recent animals—like, for instance, woolly mammoths.
1. The Origin of Species
In The Origin of Species (1859) Darwin challenged many of the most deeply-held beliefs of the Western world. Arguing for a material, not divine, origin of species, he showed that new species are achieved by "natural selection." The Origin communicates the enthusiasm of original thinking in an . More »
About the Author
David B. Weishampel is a Professor at the Center for Functional Anatomy and Evolution at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is coauthor, with D. E. Fastovsky, of The Evolution and Extinction of Dinosaurs (1996) and coauthor, with L. Young, of The Dinosaurs of the East Coast (1996). Peter Dodson is Professor of Anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. He is the author of Horned Dinosaurs: A Natural History. Halszka Osmólska is Professor of Paleontology at the Paleobiological Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.
But by the time "Jurassic World" (2015) rolled around, feathers were well established in theropods &mdash bipedal, meat-eating dinosaurs &mdash among a group called dromaeosaurids, which included Velociraptor and Deinonychus. One well-preserved find called Microraptor even retained fossilized evidence pointing to feathers that in life were glossy black and shimmering with iridescence.
In fact, hundreds of fossils uncovered in 2014 showed that plant-eating ornithischians, dinosaurs that are not closely related to birds, also included feathers, hinting that feathers were even more common among dinosaurs than previously suspected.
However, "Jurassic World" director Colin Trevorrow dashed hopes for feathered dinosaurs when the film was still in production, tweeting a terse "No feathers" in 2013.
Trevorrow's directive stands in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" &mdash dinosaurs in this movie are as smooth and scaly as when they were first introduced in 1993, despite plenty of evidence that dinosaurs were not only feathered but were probably even downright fluffy.
Looking for dinosaurs in the Andes of Argentina
In a remote site of La Rioja, Late Cretaceous rocks preserve many fossil bones and eggs that belonged to plant-eating dinosaurs called titanosaurians. New species and the remains of extensive nesting ground reveal clues about their diversity and reproductive behavior.
Copy the link
Today, Quebrada de Santo Domingo is entirely different from the times when the gigantic titanosaurian dinosaurs roamed what is now Northwest Argentina. This small Andean valley is the gateway to the Laguna Brava Provincial Park, a reserve for flamingos and other high altitude birds. Massive red-colored sandstones dating back from the Mesozoic Era and a reared, thin air atmosphere, which the locals call puna, dominate this breathtaking landscape. More than 3,000 m high, the vegetation is surprisingly sparse and the weather is hostile—no shelter from the sun during the day, freezing temperatures at night. Excavating dinosaur fossils here is a tremendous logistical challenge.
The landscape of Quebrada de Santo Domingo. The sparse vegetation grows in the vicinity of a few streams that cross the region. Much of the site remains covered in snow during winter.
The first discoveries in this enigmatic locality occurred in the 90s when Tim Coughlin and Rod Holcombe found a pair of heavily eroded dinosaur vertebrae during a geological field trip. Still, the lack of exact coordinates frustrated several efforts to find more fossils in subsequent decades, including our first ten-day prospecting attempt, in March 2015. Despite the failure, we decided to return after the winter snowfalls. After another ten days of walking at a slow pace, the first fossils appeared and —what a surprise!— they were not bones but eggshells! Some of them were embedded in the sandstone, forming slightly flattened lentil-shaped circles. Unmistakable silhouettes of eggs cut by the erosion! After a few days, we were able to extract a partial cluster of semi-spherical eggs, about 14 cm in diameter. The bones waited another year to be discovered. In the following expeditions we unearthed partial skeletons of two new titanosaurian species. The smallest, no longer than 7 m, is called Bravasaurus arrierosorum. The other one is much larger (
20 m long), and we named it Punatitan coughlini. Information obtained from the specimens suggests that both species are closely related to titanosaurians that not only inhabited the Bauru region in Brazil but also the Argentinean Patagonia. Therefore, the new fossils help us to better understand the distribution of this group of dinosaurs across South America.
Bravasaurus quarry, drinking a well-deserved mate on a cold afternoon excavation. In the center, the femur of Bravasaurus is covered with plaster. Bravasaurus (left) and Punatitan (right) in the Cretaceous landscape of Quebrada de Santo Domingo. Artwork by Jorge Blanco.
Around seventy million years ago, in times of Bravasaurus and Punatitan, the Andes were an incipient mountain range. The geological record tells us about meandering rivers and episodic floods. These events buried some dinosaur skeletons and preserved an overwhelming amount of eggs laid in several nesting seasons. Current evidence indicates that their producers were titanosaurians, but which ones? Why did they choose this site as a breeding ground over and over again? Perhaps other animals, such as theropods and crocodilians, thrived there as well! COVID-19 may have thwarted our plans to return to the field in 2020, but the enthusiasm for answering these questions remains intact.
A Roll Call of Dinosaurs
The fossil record holds an inconceivable menagerie. A short stroll through any major museum’s prehistoric displays makes this clear. There’s no modern equivalent to Apatosaurus, the great long-necked dinosaur whose kind have been perplexing paleontologists since their discovery, nor is there anything splashing around in the shallows that’s akin to a desmostylian—a mammal related to elephants that seemed to be equal parts hippo and seal. Almost every new species uncovered from the Age of Dinosaurs or the following Age of Mammals yields some surprise. Had we not found their bones, we would never have been able to imagine them. Thankfully, though, the continuing efforts of paleontologists have introduced us to a fantastic array of prehistoric life, and now both mammals and dinosaurs are getting their due in a pair of new “field guides.”
On the surface, calling any compilation of prehistoric animals a field guide is a bit of a stretch. Out in the field, where their remains are found, these species come to us as battered piles of bones just peeking out of the rock. A Triceratops or saber-toothed cat found fresh in ancient strata looks quite different from a mounted skeleton or an artistic restoration. All the same, we reserve a great deal of wonder for imagining what these creatures looked like in life, and so it is fitting that Gregory S. Paul’s “Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs” (now in its second edition) and Donald Prothero’s “Princeton Field Guide to Prehistoric Mammals” follow the traditional route of depicting and considering these fossil celebrities as living creatures rather than as piles of fractured remains.
Dinosaurs would naturally top any time traveler’s prehistoric wish list. We have their descendants, birds, to look at, of course, but a pigeon is not a Stegosaurus. Mr. Paul’s book takes up the task of bringing readers up to date with the current view of these animals, adding a spate of new species that have popped up since its initial publication in 2010. (The pace of discovery is so rapid that a new dinosaur species was announced just last week.) But Mr. Paul’s book is more than simply a lavishly illustrated compendium.
Scientists’ visions of what dinosaurs were and how they lived have been changing since we started discovering their bones. The Dinosaur Renaissance of the 1970s—which raised their tails, gave them supercharged metabolisms, moved them out of the swamps and started covering them with feathers—was the last major image shift, but in recent years a wealth of discoveries has added ever more insight into their biology. This is what Mr. Paul covers in the first 68 pages, running through everything from what we know about the skin, scales and feathers of dinosaurs to the question of why some were able to grow to be the largest animals ever to walk the Earth.
Up to date, extensive documentary about dinosaurs? - Biology
It may sound like fiction, but it is not. Prehistoric dinosaurs and giant reptiles thought to be extinct millions of years have allegedly been spotted in remote parts of Africa. These sightings are by tribesmen of the region, natives living without the luxuries of a modern society like books, televisions, and cell phones. Yet, they uncannily describe beasts that any of us would easily recognize as a known dinosaur species. You don’t have to believe them, but you should open your mind and let your imagination wander. It is good for your soul because, by nature, we are all explorers and investigators. Here are a few extinct creatures allegedly roaming African jungles today.
Mokele Mbembe – This is probably the most famous African dinosaur supposedly living in the Congo River basin of Africa. Legendary sightings by natives go back over 200 years. Based upon descriptions provided, this creature resembles a Sauropod dinosaur. Sauropods had a body like an elephant, a long tail, long neck and a small head. Dinosaurs in this category include Brontosaurus, Diplodocus and Apatosaurus. Sauropods were enormous, averaging 70 feet long, and stood 12-15 feet tall at the hips. They were plant eaters. In 1776, French missionaries reported seeing huge footprints left by this creature. The clawed prints were three feet in circumference and spaced about seven feet apart. Although there have been expeditions in search of this dinosaur, none have been successful. Interestingly, the movie Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend is supposed to have been loosely based on this legend.
Mbielu-mbielu-mbielu – This creature allegedly resides in the Likouala Region of the Republic of the Congo and has been observed near two different villages. It is described as a large amphibious reptile with plates growing from its back. Based on descriptions, some equate it to the long-extinct dinosaur we know as Stegosaurus. However, unlike Stegosaurus, which was a ground dweller, this beast spends much of its time in the water and is believed to be an herbivore with no aggressive tendencies. Sightings of the monster in water reveal that its back dorsal plates “tend to be mostly covered in green algae.” Although there have been reported sightings, there is no physical evidence it actually exists.
Nguma-monene – Nguma-monene loosely translates to large boa/python in Lingala language. This is a semi-aquatic giant serpentine living in the swamps/rivers of the Congo. It is described as a large low-slung lizard with a long tail, sharp teeth, and serrated ridges running down its back. Some describe it as snake-like. It is allegedly about 30 feet long, grayish-brown and has been known to attack hippos. It reportedly eats birds and monkeys. Wikipedia reports two testimonials of sightings which occurred near the Dongu-Mataba River (tributary of the Ubangi River). One possible explanation for this creature is that it is a surviving dolichosaur, from a group of marine reptiles intermediate between snakes and lizards living during the late Cretaceous period, some 95 million years ago.
Ngoubou – This is a non-aquatic creature allegedly living in the rainforests of Central Africa and savanna region of Cameroon. Resembling a rhinoceros, Pygmies call this one Ngoubou, which is the local word for rhinoceros. However, unlike rhinos this creature has multiple horns, is about the size of a small ox and fights elephants. Based on its description, Ngoubou closely resembles a dinosaur called a Styracosaurus. Styracosaurus became extinct over 65 million years ago. According to locals, there has been a decline in the population of these animals, and they are becoming hard to find. Allegedly at least one native killed a local Ngoubou with a spear several years ago.
There you have it, a sampling of prehistoric creatures reportedly roaming the jungles of Africa or living in its lakes and swamps. There are also reports of legendary creatures on other continents like Australia where native Aborigines tell stories of encounters with huge monsters fitting the descriptions of dinosaurs and giant marsupials. And of course, there are the famous reports of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. Are the stories true? Do these creatures actually exist? Only time will tell after more in-depth investigations occur and evidence is collected. For now, we can let our imaginations wander and enjoy reading all about these incredible sightings of dinosaurs possibly living today in remote parts of the world.
Our work at the Rooidraai locality has yielded multiple in situ clutches of eggs as well as fragmentary eggshell and bones, all from a 2-m-thick interval of muddy siltstone 25 m from the top of the Lower Jurassic Upper Elliot Formation (“Stormberg Group,” Karoo Supergroup) (11). We refer these finds to the same taxon as the partial clutch containing in ovo embryos of Massospondylus collected in 1976 because the eggs are closely similar in size and structure, and the exposed embryonic bones are indistinguishable from the previously described remains (1, 12).
In total, 10 clutches of eggs (N1–N10), 8 of which occurred in situ, were identified across a 23-m-wide by 2-m-thick outcrop area in the lower portion of the muddy siltstone unit at Rooidraai. The egg clutches occur in at least four discrete levels, with two clutches of uncertain provenance recovered from the talus slope. All eggs were found in clusters at Rooidraai, and there is not a single occurrence of individual eggs. The most completely prepared clutch (Fig. 2B) comprises at least 34 eggs. It is complete on three sides, but it is unclear how many eggs were lost along the eroded edge. As in birds, the eggs form a single layer in each clutch. The eggs are tightly packed together and deposited into recognizable rows (Fig. 2 A and B). Given the large size of adult Massospondylus, it is likely that the mother organized the eggs after laying them in the nest. However, the egg clutches at Rooidraai lack definitive sedimentological evidence of nest construction (13).
Egg clutches recovered from Rooidrai. (A) Massospondylus (BP/1/5347a) egg clutch, showing the presence of two exposed skeletons parts of 7 eggs (numbered) are preserved in this block, and fragments of 4 additional eggs are preserved in the counterpart block (BP/1/5347b, not shown). However, only 6 eggs are sufficiently complete to contain embryos. This clutch was collected as an isolated block in talus in 1976. Of the preserved near complete eggs, 5 contain embryonic remains, but only the remains in 2 eggs (N2 and N6) have been exposed through preparation and removal of most of the eggshell. (B) Part of the most completely prepared egg clutch that contains a total of 34 eggs (BP/1/6229). This clutch was preserved in situ in the cliff face. The matrix in the immediate area around the nest showed extensive bioturbation and lacked the fine laminations that normally characterize much of the nesting site, but there is no definite evidence of a nest beyond the organized nature of the egg clutches. (Scale bar, 5 cm.)
A few meters below the nest-bearing unit is a 17-m-thick fluvial sandstone with large-scale lateral accretion macroforms, which we interpret as a high-sinuosity meandering channel complex, the content of which rapidly fines upward. The egg clutches occur near the base of a 10-m-thick succession of muddy siltstone, which is composed of numerous fine laminations and 1- to 5-cm-thick beds of laminated siltstone that bear current-ripple marks and typically fine upwards into pure claystone. Many of these laminae and beds have small desiccation cracks on their upper surfaces. Other beds within the interval also preserve ripple and wrinkle marks.
Small calcium carbonate nodules of presumably pedogenic origin are distributed fairly randomly within the silty mudstone unit and are mostly allochthonous. The ubiquitous deep red color of the silty mudstone unit indicates rubification, which is typical of oxidation of iron-bearing minerals above the water table. These combined features indicate that the depositional setting was fairly arid during this time period. The fine-grained nature of the sediment and small-scale sedimentary structures that developed at the site attests to the relatively low intensity of repeated flooding events that led to vertical accretion and filling of the floodbasin depression.
Bioturbation is exceptionally common throughout the 10-m-thick muddy siltstone unit and is dominated by small, indeterminate burrows and root traces. The trace fossils comprise common unlined vertical and horizontal burrows (Skolithos and Planolites, respectively), lined, meandering horizontal burrows (Paleophycus), and meniscate, back-filled horizontal burrows (Taenidium).
Although no unequivocal tetrapod tracks have been found in situ within the nest-bearing succession, several talus blocks of muddy siltstone have been found with very small tetrapod tracks and fish swimming traces (Undichna sp.). Numerous tiny prints are scattered over the slabs but it is difficult to trace individual trackways. Nevertheless several manus–pes sets are present and a number of partial trackways can be delineated (BP/1/6923a,b) and are referable to Massospondylus. These footprints are preserved mostly as natural casts (convex hyporeliefs) on the undersides of fine-grained sandstone slabs that have parted along mud drapes. The pes prints closely match those referred to the ichnogenus Otozoum, which have also been attributed to sauropodomorph dinosaurs (14). The digitigrade, mesaxonic pes prints are tetradactyl with subparallel digits II–IV. Digit I is shorter than the other three and tends to diverge slightly. In well-preserved prints, digit I bears a distinct claw impression (Fig. 3 A and C). The clearest pes prints (BP/1/6923a Fig. 3 A and C) show weakly impressed phalangeal–metatarsal pads behind the digits, including a large, semicoalesced pad behind digits III and IV, which is also present in Otozoum. The principal difference between the Rooidraai tracks and Otozoum is the absence of a posterior pad produced by digit V in the former.
Footprints attributed to juvenile Massospondylus (BP/1/6923) from the nesting level at Rooidraai. (A) Pes print pair (BP/1/6923a). (B) Right manus print (BP/1/6923b). (C) Interpretive drawing of pes prints. (D) Interpretive drawing of manus print. (Scale bars, 10 mm.) cm, claw mark lpI, first left pedal digit lpII, second left pedal digit lpIII, third left pedal digit lpIV, fourth left pedal digit pmI, phalangeal–metatarsal pad of the first pedal digit pmII, phalangeal–metatarsal pad of the second pedal digit pmIII+IV, coalesced phalangeal–metatarsal pad of the third and fourth pedal digits rmI, first right manual digit rmII, second right manual digit rmIII, third right manual digit rmIV, fourth right manual digit rpI, first right pedal digit rpII, second right pedal digit rpIII, third right pedal digit rpIV, fourth right pedal digit.
Up to date, extensive documentary about dinosaurs? - Biology
Welcome to the Plesiosaur Directory, for everything ‘plesiosaur’!
During the Mesozoic Era when dinosaurs dominated the land and pterosaurs patrolled the sky an equally spectacular array of reptiles ruled the oceans. Prehistoric marine reptiles came in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Plesiosaurs, however, were probably the most bizarre. With their four flippers and often long necks, no other animal is quite like a plesiosaur. This website is dedicated to them and their close relatives.
The Plesiosaur Directory is for anyone interested in any aspect of plesiosaurs and their kin. You will find information about their anatomy, classification, evolution, and stratigraphic distribution, along with data on specific genera and species. There are also sections dedicated to plesiosaur palaeobiology or how the animals were in life – key questions here concern their swimming and diet. I’ve endeavoured to make the site as image-rich as possible by incorporating photographs of plesiosaur fossils, line drawings of bones and skeletons, and restorations of their possible appearance in life.
Going beyond the science I also consider plesiosaurs in popular culture including films, toys and purported living monsters. This site will always be under development as our understanding of plesiosaurs develops, and you can also keep up to date with the latest plesiosaur news and discoveries on the ‘Plesiosaur Bites’ blog.