9 Extinct Exotic Sea Creatures


1
Pliosaur
The pilosaur was described as a crocodile on steroids; it could be as long as 59 feet. Nobumichi Tamura/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

Speaking of Jurassic, the pliosaur was the most fearsome beast the waters saw in those days. Described by one news outlet as a "crocodile on steroids," this creature ran up to 59 feet (18 meters) in length. The roughly 155 million-year-old mammoth featured a human-sized jaw and large teeth that may have been able to take down a Dearcmhara in one bite, as well as huge, melon-sized eyes that gave the animal impressive binocular vision. In the early 2000s, fossils of the beast have been located in England and Norway [source: Morelle].

A short-necked marine reptile, the pliosaur resembles a large croc with longer, paddle-shaped limbs. That made it faster than many of its counterparts, traveling at speeds of up to 6 mph (10 kph). The creature fed mostly on fish, mollusks and other marine reptiles, but paleontologists have also found something else in pliosaur stomachs: dinosaur remains. They don't believe that these beasts actually hunted dinosaurs, but instead probably feasted on discarded remains [source: BBC].

Author's Note: 10 Extinct Exotic Sea Creatures

Don't get me wrong, I think it's pretty safe to say that I wouldn't want to encounter any of these creatures during a dip in the water. I have to say, however, that I've already come face to face with a monster every bit as depraved and fearsome: The dreaded hangover at sea. It's tough to enjoy a nice jaunt out to the ocean under a cloudless Caribbean sky when you're also tussling with Montezuma's revenge.

Related Articles

Sources

  • Animal Planet. "Dunkleosteus." (Feb. 9, 2015) http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/other/videos/animal-armageddon-dunkleosteus/
  • BBC. "Dunkleosteus." (Feb. 9, 2015) http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/seamonsters/factfiles/dunkleosteus.shtml?img1
  • BBC. "Pliosaurs." (Feb. 9, 2015) http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Pliosaur
  • Borenstein, Seth. "James Cameron Sees 'Another Planet' in the Deepest Sea." Associated Press. March 26, 2012 (Feb. 8, 2015) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/46860722/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/james-cameron-sees-another-planet-deepest-sea/#.VNe_2i6ulK0
  • Bittel, Jason. "Motorboat-Size Sea Monster Found, Sheds Insight on Evolution." National Geographic. Jan. 13, 2015 (Feb. 9, 2015) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/01/150113-sea-monsters-paleontology-scotland-animals-science-fossils/
  • Chappell, Bill. "Rare And 'Horrific': Frilled Shark Startles Fishermen In Australia." NPR. Jan. 21, 2015 (Feb. 8, 2015) http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/21/378944897/rare-and-horrific-frilled-shark-startles-fishermen-in-australia?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20150125&utm_campaign=mostemailed&utm_term=nprnews
  • Crew, Bec. "Prehistoric ghost shark Helicoprion's spiral-toothed jaw explained." Scientific American. Feb. 27, 2013 (Feb. 9, 2015) http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/running-ponies/2013/02/27/prehistoric-ghost-shark-helicoprions-spiral-toothed-jaw-explained/
  • ESPN. "Shaquille O'Neal." (Feb. 9, 2015) http://espn.go.com/nba/player/_/id/614/shaquille-oneal
  • Fossil Guy. "Mosasaur: Facts and Information about the Giant Marine Reptile." (Feb. 8, 2015) http://www.fossilguy.com/gallery/vert/reptile/mosasaur/
  • McCormick, Cameron. "Stupendemys: Giant Amongst Mega-Turtles." The Lord Geekington. March 11, 2010 (Feb. 8, 2015) http://cameronmccormick.blogspot.com/2010/03/stupendemys-giant-amongst-mega-turtles.html
  • Morelle, Rebecca. "Dorset pliosaur: 'Most fearsome predator' unveiled." BBC. July 8, 2011 (Feb. 9, 2015) http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-14061347
  • Moss, Stephen. "Another new ichthyosaur in the golden age of Jurassic discovery." The Guardian. Jan. 12, 2015 (Feb. 10, 2015) http://www.theguardian.com/science/shortcuts/2015/jan/12/new-dinosaur-golden-age-jurassic-discovery-skye
  • Museum of Unnatural History. "The Kraken." (Feb. 8, 2015) http://www.unmuseum.org/kraken.htm
  • National Geographic. "Tylosaurus Proriger." (Feb. 8, 2015) http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/prehistoric/tylosaurus/
  • Prehistoric Wildlife. "Stupendemys." (Feb. 9, 2015) http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/s/stupendemys.html
  • Prehistoric Wildlife. "Tanystropheus." (Feb. 8, 2015) http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/t/tanystropheus.html
  • Prigg. Mark. "The megalodon IS extinct: New study rubbishes claim that giant shark still roams the ocean - and says it died out 2.6 million years ago." Daily Mail. Oct. 23, 2014 (Feb. 9, 2015)
  • Rincon, Paul. "Monster shark 'kept whales in check.'" BBC. Oct. 23, 2014 (Feb. 8, 2015) http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29743081
  • South East Travel Fishing Industry Association. "Living fossil captured." Jan. 14, 2015 (Feb. 8, 2015) http://www.setfia.org.au/item/living-fossil-captured.html
  • University of California Museum of Paleontology. "Prolacertiformes." May 2007 (Feb. 8, 2015) http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/taxa/verts/archosaurs/prolacertiformes.php

UP NEXT

The Mastodon Boneyard That Stole Thomas Jefferson’s Heart

The Mastodon Boneyard That Stole Thomas Jefferson’s Heart

Massive mastodons roamed lower Kentucky during the last ice age. HowStuffWorks takes a look at the natural and presidential history of the region.


More to Explore