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Palaeontology

Reptile had a neck 3 times the length of its body

August 9, 2020 | Comment icon 8 comments



It is likely that Tanystropheus was an aquatic hunter. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Nobu Tamura
Scientists have been studying how a prehistoric creature named Tanystropheus supported its insanely long neck.
Fossils of this remarkable reptile, which roamed the planet's coastal regions some 242 million years ago, were first discovered in the mid 19th-Century.

Since then, palaeontologists have speculated over whether the animal - which had a ridiculously long neck three times the length of its own body - lived predominantly on land or in water.

Now though, a new study by Dr Nick Fraser of National Museums Scotland, and colleagues, has finally shed some light on the mystery.
By using modern high-resolution micro-CT scans of the fossils to construct a detailed computer model of the creature's skull, the researchers were able to determine that Tanystropheus had nostrils on the top of its snout and teeth designed primarily for trapping fish, indicating that it most likely spent the majority of its life in the water.

This also helps to explain how it was able to support the weight of its huge neck.

That said, it is also likely that the species did spend some time out of the water as well.

"Our group feels that this animal was an aquatic animal most of the time," said Fraser.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (8)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by HandsomeGorilla 1 year ago
This is the type of **** I like even as an adult.† Loved the idea of the Loch Ness Monster as a kid!†
Comment icon #2 Posted by jethrofloyd 1 year ago
The best candidate so far for Loch Ness monster.†
Comment icon #3 Posted by Torviking 1 year ago
Exactly what I have been believing for many years that water would support most of the neck. This maybe why the LNM looks like a giant eel ? I donít really know, just making a speculation.
Comment icon #4 Posted by khol 1 year ago
Interesting to see through pronounced† examples like this how evolution played out over time. Survial of fittest. Beneficial traits overcoming less beneficial ones.Expanses of time being the canvas from which it's†all played out. What an amazing creature! But if it was such an evolutionary advantage to have extremely long necks millions of years ago why not anymore? Why did the line diverge. We dont see this configuration anymore.Same with land animals. Giraffes will eventually become extinct in wild. I found this article that points out†longer necks allowed animals with such huge mass to to t... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by Humbled Hypocrite83 1 year ago
Looks like the water did most of the support†
Comment icon #6 Posted by Humbled Hypocrite83 1 year ago
I'll just politely comment to shut down all non sense topics... I'll gladly embrace this
Comment icon #7 Posted by Jon the frog 1 year ago
Just heard chiropractors salivating in the background...
Comment icon #8 Posted by Eldorado 10 months ago
Make a crocodile out of taffy. Take its head and tug on it until its neck extends a good few meters from its body. If you squint, this could be what one odd-looking Triassic reptile called Tanystropheus looked like. More or less. This animal's assortment of ludicrously long fossilized neck bones has confused the heck out of paleontologists for nearly 170 years. By using CT scans to unpack the crushed skulls of the reptiles' remains, researchers finally resolved some nagging questions surrounding this strange animal in August last year. Specimens of Tanystropheus can reach more than 5 meters (1... [More]


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