Tanystropheus (Tan-ee-stro-fee-us), Long strap, lived in the Middle Triassic. It was a protorosaur, a group related to the archosaurs that were the ancestors of dinosaurs. Originally interpreted as a land animal that stuck its long neck out like a fishing pole to catch shell fish, it is now reconstructed as an aquatic animal. It can be seen as an early experiment with the plesiosaur body. The long neck bones caused the early fossils of Tanystropheus (=Tribelesodon) to be modeled as pterosaurs (Sues & Fraser, 2010).
Species: T. conspicuous, T. longbardicus, T. meridensis.
Synonyms: Tribelesodon, Procerosaurus
Tanystropheus had an enormously long neck that made up half the body length in adults. The adults had the conical teeth common among fish eaters. The teeth of the juveniles were tricuspids in the back of the jaw. The front legs were shorter than the rear, perhaps support the levering of the neck in tide pools.
LENGTH: 6 m (20 ft).
WEIGHT: 300 lbs.
The adults fished in tide pools where the long neck allowed them to catch fish and squid, both in and out of the water. The tides would have refreshed the food supply regularly. The young would have had a different diet with their shorter necks and the different type of teeth, possibly for preying on arthropods.
History of Discovery
Discovery, von Meyer - 1852, it is known from several skeletons, including many juveniles.
Found in Europe, the Middle East and China along tropical shorelines of shallow seas.
Sues, H., & Fraser, N. (2010). Triassic Life on Land. New York: Columbia University Press.
Plesiosauria. (2007, November 12). Tanystropheus.
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