Box #2 in our count down is Europasaurus…
Europasaurus: the “Reptile from Europe”
Europasaurus lived in Late Jurassic Germany, an area that was dotted by islands in a shallow sea. When we see it by itself on a blank page, it looks like the generic sauropod body plan. Long neck, column-like legs, perhaps a little of Brachiosaurus thrown in there for good measure. But if you put it back on its island home we can see how very strange it is, because it’s tiny! Adults only measure to about 20 feet long, and weigh about as much as a Holstein cow (the classic black and white dairy cow in every child’s farm playset averages around 1,600 lbs).
Fossils of this dinosaur are a rare example of island dwarfism, especially since it is very difficult to be able to find fossils from island environments. A big reason for this is that islands are mostly out in the middle of the ocean, and don’t usually last long in the grand scale of time. Plus most islands dissapear into the sea, and fossil hunting at the bottom of the ocean is virtually impossible.
Luckily we have areas of land now that were once shallow seas, and so we can catch a glimpse of what a few islands were like. Perhaps in time we’ll stumble upon lucky finds of other rare environments. Imagine finding an ancient mountain habitat, or a rainforest.