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NECC BOIS by 105697 NECC BOIS by 105697
Everyone loves plesiosaurs. Elasmosaurs in particular. What's not to love about them? They are big, have a mouth full of nasty teeth, and LOOOOOOOOONG necks. Some proportionally had the longest necks of any tetrapod that we know of. Of course, there is a lot of misconception about elasmosaurs. For instance, a lot of people think that they are small prey specialists. That may not be true. It's more likely that they are actually opportunistic carnivores eating whatever they can get into their mouth. Another misconception is size. A lot of people think that the very famous Elasmosaurus was the largest elasmosaur, and largest plesiosaur known, growing to a supposed 14 meters in length. Then you get claims of the supposed 20 meter plesiosaur Mauisaurus of New Zealand. However, more extensive studies seem to have shown that Elasmosaurus was actually closer to 10 meters in length, and Mauisaurus is closer to 7-8 meters, and it may not be a valid species. That isn't to say there weren't large elasmosaurs. Here you see the three largest elasmosaurs (and as a consequence, plesiosaurs) that we have yet discovered. They all lived in North America, and all date to the Late Cretaceous, where elasmosaurs got big and weird. In order from front to back.

Albertonectes vanderveldei: When first discovered in 2012, the original record holder for the longest neck proportional to its body and the most neck vertebra among plesiosaurs was Elasmosaurus, which had a neck half its body length and 71 neck vertebra. Albertonectes however broke this record. The holotype doesn't preserve a skull, but most of the body was intact, suggesting a length of 11.2 meters (36.7 feet) from the base of the skull to the tail. If the skull was found, it would have grown to a total of 11.6 meters (38 feet) in length. This species has a neck of about 7 meters (23 feet) long, which is 2/3 the animal's length, which totally outclasses even Elasmosaurus' neck. It also has 76 neck vertebra, which is 5 more than Elasmosaurus. The bones were discovered in Southern Alberta, and dates to the end of the Campanian, around 73.5 MYA.

Thalassomedon haningtoni: Described in 1943, this elasmosaur was already known to science for a long time. The holotype specimen of this species is already gigantic, with a 47 cm (1.54 feet) skull, suggesting a TL of 10.86 meters (35.6 feet) in length. However, a much larger skull in known that suggests a bigger specimen which reached lengths of 11.7 meters (38.4 feet), barely edging out Albertonectes. It had the typical neck of an elasmosaur, and would have used that neck to sneak up on unsuspecting prey. Dating to around the Cenomanian-Turonian Extinction Event, around 95-90 MYA, it's massive size must have been triggered by the fact that many of the larger predators, like the pliosaurs, died out, leaving behind no real predators of these animals (there was the giant sand tiger shark, Leptostyrax, but it was probably eating much smaller prey than 11.7 meter elasmosaurs). Evidence seems to show that this species swallowed large stones to aid in digestion.

Styxosaurus snowii: Styxosaurus is often shadowed by its relative Elasmosaurus. However, it is actually quite larger than its contemporary. The type species, S. snowii, dates to the Santonian-Campanian Boundary, around 83.5-80.5 MYA. The largest specimen, AMNH 5835, suggests that the largest members of this species got to a massive 12 meters (39.4 feet) in length, longer than every other plesiosaur known to date. The adults massive size means that they had no natural predators other than 13-14 meter mosasaur Tylosaurus proriger. Fossils have been found in the Niobrara Formation of the United States, where Styxosaurus was a mid-level predator, as its large size would have enabled it to at least eat the mid-sized sharks and smaller marine reptiles of the time.

NOTE: Non of the references I used in this drawing are mine. The Thalassomedon is based off :iconscotthartman:'s skeletal, the Albertonectes is based off :iconlythronax-argestes:'s silouhette,  and the Styxosaurus is based off the skeletal seen in this paper.
peerj.com/articles/1777/
ENJOY!
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:iconwdghk:
WDGHK Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I`m starting to see that Styxosaurus is way more spectacular than Elasmosaurus. If I was only allowed a limited cast for a Niobrara paleo documentary I`d choose the former over the latter.
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:iconacepredator:
acepredator Featured By Owner 3 days ago
Also: I should really replace the Elasmosaurs in my Saurian Sequel (Niobrara) with Styxosaurus
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:iconacepredator:
acepredator Featured By Owner 3 days ago
Show this to :iconnashd1:
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:icon105697:
105697 Featured By Owner 3 days ago
Any reason in particular? Or is it just because it has beefy plesiosaurs?
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:iconacepredator:
acepredator Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Because he wrote a lot about elasmosaurs
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:iconthescipio:
TheScipio Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Duane Nash has many many good posts focusing on long necked Plesiosaurs. Many showing how they weren't small game specialists of schools of fish (like you point out), but were rather hyper-carnivorous, highly adaptable animals that were apart of the top of the food chain alongside Mosasaurs. All pointing from the fossil record as well. He's made a good dozen or so posts on them so he's pretty well versed.
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:iconglavenychus:
Glavenychus Featured By Owner 3 days ago  New Deviant Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thicc necks for these long bois
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:iconflipplenup:
FlippleNup Featured By Owner Edited 3 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Noice, doSe NEKks look like noodlesSnek 
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:icon105697:
105697 Featured By Owner 3 days ago
More like swimming tree trunks.
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:iconflipplenup:
FlippleNup Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You didn't see my wordplay. Look at the capitals.
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:icon105697:
105697 Featured By Owner 3 days ago
oh.
But still.
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:iconflipplenup:
FlippleNup Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ik
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:iconmunkas02:
munkas02 Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Aesthetic scientific shitpost bot 90000
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