Scientists recently reported the results of their study of the fossil remains of one of the oldest known Elasmosaurs, named the Lagenanectes richterae. This specimen is believed to have lived some 130 million years ago. Its skeleton, which is partially preserved, was discovered in Germany.
The Newly Found Lagenanectes richterae is One of the Oldest Known Elasmosaurs
The Elasmosauridae or Elasmosaurs were part of the plesiosaurs family and are considered to have flourished during the Cretaceous period or some 145 million to 66 million years ago.
Research indicates that, as a species, they were fully adapted to living in an aquatic environment. They also seem to have had a distinctive, streamlined body plan. The specimens had paddle-like limbs and a particularly long neck, one that had even up to 75 individual vertebrae.
The recently identified Lagenanectes richterae was around 26 feet long and probably inhabited a shallow sea some 130 million years ago on the territory of present day Germany. This specimen was discovered in 1964 in an abandoned clay pit in northern Germany, near Sarstedt.
It had almost perfectly preserved bones, which helped reveal this marine reptile’s features. The specimen still had its vertebrae, ribs, and a meshwork of long, fang-like teeth. Also, it still had most of its skull and some bones from its flipper-like limbs.
“The jaws of Lagenanectes richterae had some especially unusual features,” stated Dr. Jahn Hornung, a study co-author and paleontologist.
Dr. Benjamin Kear, another co-author part of the Uppsala University in Sweden’s Museum of Evolution also pointed out that “The most important aspect of this marine reptile is that it is amongst the oldest of its kind.”
He pointed out that this is one of the oldest known Elasmosaurs, which are considered an “extremely successful group of globally distributed plesiosaurs”.
Despite having been discovered over five decades ago, a team of scientists was only recently invited by the Lower Saxony State Museum to study this specimen.
Study results were released in a paper in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
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