Plesiosaurs could live in fresh water

(ORDO NEWS) — Usually plesiosaurs, long-necked sea lizards of the dinosaur era, are strongly associated in our minds with the vast expanses of the sea. However, a new discovery made in northern Africa proves that some species of these reptiles could seek food in the rivers.

For a long time, plesiosaurs were considered exclusively marine reptiles: their remains, found around the world, were found only in sediments that formed on the ocean floor. Now this well-established idea is ready to be shaken – and all thanks to an unusual find made in northern Africa, in Morocco.

There, in the locality of Kem Kem Group , known throughout the world for its richest collection of Late Cretaceous fossils , scientists discovered the bones and teeth of a 3-meter adult and a 1.5-meter baby plesiosaur. And not in marine, but in freshwater sediments formed at the bottom of an ancient river.

This discovery suggests that plesiosaurs were not exclusively marine animals and, like among the current dolphins, there were their own “inias” in numerous ranks of these dinosaurs , who preferred fresh water to salt water.

Unfortunately, the discovered fossils are too scarce – a few vertebrae, teeth and a flipper bone – to identify the find (it was only established that the new species belonged to the Leptoclaid family – small and relatively short-necked plesiosaurs).

But the very fact that plesiosaurs could enter rivers deserves attention and forces us to reconsider the features of the ecology of ancient pangolins.

Plesiosaurs could live in fresh water 2
Silhouettes of found plesiosaurs, adult and calf, in comparison with the silhouette of Georgina Bunker, a student at the University of Bath (UK)

Judging by the nature of tooth wear (the teeth of giant spinosaurs that lived in the same river system were worn out in a similar way), during life, plesiosaurs fed on armored river fish.

In other words, they were not random guests, but spent quite a lot of time in fresh water, or maybe they were permanent inhabitants of ancient African rivers.

Considering that plesiosaurs lived on Earth for about 100 million years, it is likely that the African pygmy plesiosaur is just one of many species of these animals that have adapted to life in fresh water.


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