New fossils suggest Plesiosaurs may have been more than marine reptiles
It’s long been believed that the beloved Plesiosaurs were marine reptiles; in other words, they lived in seawater. Most of the fossils found since 1823 had shown that they lived in the wide open waters…until now. New fossils discovered in the Sahara Desert show that they may have stayed in freshwater too while looking for food or living with their young ones.
Here are the details of the findings, along with the suggestion that the Loch Ness monster could then have been a Plesiosaur if it really existed.
From the ocean to the Sahara Desert
When the first Plesiosaur fossils were discovered by Mary Anning in 1823, we learned a lot about these ancient aquatic reptiles. With long necks and flippers, many turned to claim the Loch Ness monster was a Plesiosaur that lived into modern times. There was only one catch, though; the studies at the time presented a case for these reptiles only living in seawater.
The University of Portsmouth and The University of Bath have reached a new conclusion. In a new paper produced in the Cretaceous Research, new fossils found in Morocco in the Sahara Desert have shed new light on this ancient beast. It seems like it also lived in freshwater rivers back before the land was a desert, sharing the same space with Spinosaurs and feeding on the local fish.
Chipped teeth and armored fish
One of the more interesting findings is that the Plesiosaurs discovered in the Sahara Desert shared the same chipped teeth fossils as Spinosaurus fossils found in the same area. It suggests that they shared the same freshwater sources and hunted the same armored fish.
Dr. Nick Longrich, one of the authors of the findings, had the following to say:
“It’s scrappy stuff, but isolated bones actually tell us a lot about ancient ecosystems and animals in them. They’re so much more common than skeletons, they give you more information to work with. The bones and teeth were found scattered and in different localities, not as a skeleton. So each bone and each tooth is a different animal. We have over a dozen animals in this collection.”
It’s not uncommon today for seawater mammals and fish to wander into a freshwater river or lake. Some dolphins and whales do it for a limited time before heading out to the ocean again. However, the paleontologists believe the family of Plesiosaurs they discovered lived there for a long time, maybe permanently.
Was the Loch Ness monster a Plesiosaur, then?
While we still don’t have ample evidence that the Loch Ness monster existed, it would appear that it could have been a Plesiosaur if it did. There seems to be enough proof now that these ancient beasts could adapt to freshwater conditions and share the same food and space as Spinosaurs.
Of course, we’d need more signs that the Loch Ness monster wasn’t a hoax before we can come to this conclusion. If we manage to, it will show that not only birds and the Coelacanth survived the extinction event at the end of the Mesozoic era. It will also put a whole new perspective on it, and if only they could talk in a language we could understand.
Source: Bath University