December 2nd

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.

3 thoughts on “December 2nd

  1. So, I didn’t expect you to start this so soon and early in the morning and you have yet to reply to my comment on your previous post.
    But that’s fine. Because it’s nice to get a focus on one of the most interesting sauropods from Europe. Europasaurus is one said example of insular dwarfism, but we should also not forget about Magyarosaurus from Romania. In fact, Romania had several examples of this phenomenon when it was ruled by pterosaurs, which would be at the top of the food chain.
    Anyways, my personal advent calendar pick would go to Cartorhynchus, an ichthyosauriform from the early Triassic of China. At the moment, it is the oldest known member of its group and also one of the smallest. It might have actually been an ancestor to the ichthyosaurs, which were some of the first fossil marine reptiles to be found and one of the most important paleontological discoveries made. For these reasons, plus it having the possible ability to go on land, made it a critter worth noting and my second advent calendar organism.

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    1. I’m glad you liked Europasaurus 🙂 Magyarsaurus is cool too, but it’s a Cretaceous critter, so doesn’t get the spotlight just yet.

      Cartorhynchus is really cool, and will definitely get featured once I’m into the Triassic Period! I really like exploring critters that are among the first members of their lineage, or first fossils discovered of their lineage, such as Ichthyosaurus itself.

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