Critter of the Week: Plesiosaurus

Meet Nessie.  This curious undersea critter is always looking for an opportunity to nab a treat.  You’ll never see her coming!  Her favorite game is hide-&-seek. 🙂

nessie

Look at that smile, I think she wants you to chase her!

Nessie loves a good game of hide & seek.  She’ll find a good spot in the sand, bury herself with those powerful flippers, and wait until an unsuspecting fish or squid comes by…

Snap!  Up comes her head, and the squid is lunch before it knows what’s happening.

Other times Nessie likes to be the seeker instead, and come up to a school of squid.  It’s hard to tell exactly how close she is…the squid are easily tricked into thinking that she’s further away than she really is, so that long neck of hers can dart in for a quick bite.

Her neck is actually quite stiff, more like a fishing pole for extra leverage than the swan-like curviness you usually see on the Loch Ness monster.  But Nessie can put that leverage to good use.

There were more squid and squid-relatives than fish in Jurassic oceans, and one of those relatives are ammonites.  If you’ve never heard of an ammonite (am-oh-night) before, then you can think of them as squid with snail shells.

The big difference (aside from not being related to snails)… Snails have their entire bodies inside their shells, with all their delicate organs near the center of the spiral.

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Those squiggly lines near the center of the spiral are a nice x-ray view of the chambers within the shell.  The ammonite itself would live in the largest chamber at the outermost end of the spiral.

Ammonites don’t live in the whole shell.  Instead, the shell is divided into chambers, and the ammonite only lives in the chamber nearest the “door”.  The other chambers may be used for sinking and rising in the water quickly, rather like a submarine.

Now ammonites have really tough shells, and there are billions of these things swimming around (even more than squid), but how to eat them?  Nessie’s jaws are too delicate to chomp through a tough shell, and though she can just swallow whole a little ammonite that’s 2 inches in diameter (if she can catch it!), how could she tackle some of the bigger ones?  Some could grow 10 feet across!  Once they squeeze into their shell and close the “door”, there’s no way Nessie could get at it.

Here’s where a stiff, very muscular, long neck could come in handy.

Sneak up on an ammonite just fast enough to grab hold of a tentacle before it can pull itself in its shell.  Then roll and twist.  Tentacle breaks off and Nessie gets some nutritious and delicious calamari.  Ammonite moves on with its day and regrows the lost tentacle. 🙂

Now these are all possibilities on how Nessie could’ve used that long neck.  If you want to read more on how this could work, check out Antediluvian Salad, and amazing blog written by the incredibly knowledgeable Duane Nash.

Making progress…

I’ve been making a few changes to a few pages in Dippy vs. Ball!

Progress is being made on the backend, to smooth out things with Amazon and email sign-up forms…

And here are some previews of a few pages, so you can see what I’ve been up to. 🙂

  • These two pages are being updated.  I’ll be following advice to make the images larger, and spreading each page out over two pages.  Like this…

I hope to be done and ready for publishing by next week, but you never know what comes up with three little kids.  Hopefully I can fulfill my self-imposed deadline.  I’m ready to have this finished so I can work on the picture book! 😀

Coming Next Week…

This flyer will dive high and low for a fishy treat.

Share your guess in the comments! He’ll be one of the critters over on the critter page. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Critter of the Week: Plesiosaurus

    1. Hi! Thank you so much for spending a little time here at the Shop. 🙂

      Ammonites were an extremely successful group of animals that thrived all the way through the “dinosaur age” until the great extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous.

      During that time, ammonites grew to all sizes. The smallest I know of were only about 2 inches across, and most were no bigger than 9 inches across.

      Some Cretaceous ammonites grew much larger, and among the largest fossils is one that grew to 6.5 feet in diameter. 🙂

      Here’s a picture that shows how varied ammonite’s shells could be. Most were the typical coiled “snail shell” we tend to think of, but some had shells that had an uncoiled, unusual shape. These mostly thrived during the Cretaceous.

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