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Plesiosaurus facts for kids

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Temporal range: Lower Jurassic
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Superorder: Sauropterygia
Order: Plesiosauria
Suborder: Plesiosauroidea
Family: Plesiosauridae
Gray, 1825
Genus: Plesiosaurus
Conybeare, 1821

P. dolichodirus
P. guilelmiimperatoris

Anning Plesiosaur
Illustration of one of Anning's finds: Plesiosaurus macrocephalus

Plesiosaurus was a large fossil marine reptile, a genus in the order Plesiosauria.

The first specimen discovered by Mary Anning in 1820-21 was missing its skull. She found it on the 'Jurassic Coast' of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England. In 1823 she found another one, this time complete with its skull. The name Plesiosaurus was given by the Rev. William Conybeare.

Plesiosaurus was a predator, living mostly on fish and belemnites. It would swim through schools of fish and use its long neck and sharp teeth to snap them up.

Plesiosaurus was a fairly typical member of its order, and measured around 3 to 5 metres (10 to 16 ft) in total length. The snout was short, but the jaws were able to open very wide, and had a series of conical teeth in sockets. The neck was quite long, and the short tail was used for steering. Like all plesiosaurs, it used its large paddles to swim.

Only two species are known, and the genus existed for about 25 million years from the beginning of the Jurassic period.

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