‘A recent expedition to the Talkeetna Mountains by the alaskamuseum has uncovered a new marine reptile fossil from the Age of Dinosaurs known as an elasmosaur.Earth sciences curator Patrick Druckenmiller said elasmosaurs are a type of plesiosaur with extremely long necks and two pairs of paddle-like limbs used to swim under water. They lived during the Late Cretaceous period about 70 million years ago. “Picture the mythical Loch Ness monster and you have a pretty good idea what it looked like. This is an exciting find because it is the first time an elasmosaur has ever been discovered in Alaska.”’ [X]

“BATTLE BETWEEN ICHTHYOSAURS AND ELASMOSAURS.The icthyosaurus which was similar to a dolphin in appearance, was one of the most feared marine reptiles; it had undoubtedly adopted the most favourable shape for moving in the water. The icthyosaurs, which were about 8 meters long and the owners of 200 very sharp teeth, could attack even the elasmosaurs successfully.”

Marine Reptile Month #12 – Hydrotherosaurus

Late Cretaceous period (72-66 mya)

One of the larger elasmosaurid plesiosaurs, Hydrotherosaurus reached lengths of around 13m (42ft 7in). And, like the unrelated Tanystropheus, about half of that was neck – although Hydrotherosaurus had 60 cervical vertebrae compared to Tanystropheus’ 10-12.

Although often depicted with swan-like or snake-like highly flexible necks, elasmosaurs weren’t actually capable of such extreme postures. Their necks seem to have been relatively stiff, and may have functioned as rudders – turning the head towards something would cause the whole body to move in that direction.

The lifestyle of these animals is still a little unclear. They’ve been proposed as “spear fishers”, sticking their long necks and heads into schools of fish to snatch up prey before the main bulk of their bodies became visible. Stomach contents of seafloor crustaceans and molluscs, along with trace fossils of odd gutter-like gouge marks, however, raise the possibility of elasmosaurs instead scooping up mouthfuls of prey-rich sediment.

There’s also some fun speculation about the necks being electric organs.

Color palette used: “Revenge of the Sunfish