Fossil range: Triassic
Nothosaurus sp., a Nothosaur from the Triassic of Europe, North Africa and Russia
| Scientific classification
Nothosaurs (order Nothosauroidea) were Triassic marine sauropterygian reptiles that may have lived like seals of today, catching food in water but coming ashore on rocks and beaches. They averaged about 3 meters (10 ft) in in length, with a long body and tail. The feet were paddle-like, and are known to have been webbed in life, to help power the animal when swimming. The neck was quite long, and the head was elongate and flattened, and relatively small in relation to the body. The margins of the long jaws were equipped with numerous sharp outward-pointing teeth, indicating a diet of fish.
The nothosaurs consist of two suborders--the Pachypleurosaurs, tiny, primitive forms, and the true Nothosaurs, which evolved from pachypleurosaurs. Nothosaur-like reptiles were in turn ancestral to the more completely marine plesiosaurs, which replaced them at the end of the Triassic period.
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