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. 🙂



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.


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, an amazing blog written by the incredibly knowledgeable Duane Nash.

Continue reading for picture book progress!

email incentive


Making progress…

Two kinda sorta big things this week…

  • an Instagram and
  • A new page on the site

First up…why Instagram?

I’ve had this little site going for about a year now, and though I have a few lovely readers like you here, it would be nice to meet more people. I don’t think I’ve been doing a very good job on telling people where they can find prehistoric pets (that aren’t balloon cuteness level), so I need to fix that!

One way to let others know that the Paleo Petshop exists is through social media.  Since my email list isn’t exactly working yet (read, haven’t figured it out yet), then at least I can spread the word through social media.  Perhaps some followers there will like the Paleo Petshop enough to join us here. 🙂

Why Instagram vs. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or a bazillion other ones?  Because Instagram allows me to post through illustrations and pictures, which is mostly what I have to offer.

I do plan on colonizing YouTube and Facebook as well, but right now I’m just focusing on doing Instagram well.

It’s like the game of Risk.  You don’t want to invade every territory possible because you’ll spread your battalions out too thin.  Better bide your time for a few turns to get reinforcements, then you can colonize other areas. 😀

That said, you can check out my Instragram account if you like @paleopetshop.  I post a sketch every day except on weekends. 🙂

#2 on the list…A new page on the site.

I’ve been meaning to have a reference source page forever and forever, because I claim that the paleo pets here on the site are accurate and based on research.  So now there is a page with research that I’ve been collecting!

It’s nowhere near a complete list, because I read a ton of stuff.  Anywhere from prehistoric plants to modern birds and how sensitive to touch their beaks are.  Also watching my own critters at home and watching YouTube videos of wacky animal antics…the list goes on and is too long to include all of it on a reference page.  But I can at least include books, websites, and scientific articles I read. 🙂

Feel free to do your own research!  I’m learning as I go here, and I certainly don’t claim to be a paleontologist, so if you disagree with how I’ve interpreted some of the research, then I’d be happy to here constructive critique. 🙂


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. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Critter of the Week: Plesiosaurus

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