Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top Ten: Extinct Sea Monsters (Part 5 of 5)

Our final edition of "Top Ten:  Extinct Sea Monsters!

9.  Tanystropheus - Living during the Middle Triassic Period, Tanystropheus is somewhat of a misfit amongst this group, as he is not really a sea-monster, and was, at most, a semi-aquatic animal (think otters).  Purportedly piscivorous, Tanystropheus fossils are usually found in semi-aquatic sites.  Its neck has been likened to that of the Plesiosaurs, like Elasmosaurus.  They would all use their necks to surprise a group of fish, long before the fish would be able to see the body of the reptile. Remains have been discovered throughout France, Germany, and Italy, amongst other places. 

10.  Tylosaurus - Interestingly enough, the closest living relative of the extinct mosasaurs, of which Tylosaurus is a member, are the monitor lizards, like the Komodo dragon.  Both the monitor lizards and the mosasaurs have a third eye on the top of their heads, although it just looks like a little white dot on the top of the head of the monitor lizard.  It doesn't work in the same fashion as their other eyes, however.  Look towards a light (not the sun, because apparently that can actually be harmful) and close your eyes.  You can still still some light, right?  Now, move your hand back and forth in front of your face, between your eyes and the light.  Can you see how the light changes?  You can't see anything more distinct than the fact that something moved between you and that light.  That is what the third eye of monitor lizards and mosasaurs would have been like.  Tylosaurus also inhabited the Western Interior Seaway during the Late Cretaceous.  Remains, amongst other places, have been discovered in Alabama and Kansas, amongst other places.

So that concludes our "Top Ten:  Extinct Sea Monsters" edition!  Unfortunate that we had to break it up into five parts, to be sure, but hey, that's life!

This post is part of the "Top Ten: Extinct Sea Monsters" series.  For the rest of the posts in this series, click HERE.  

1 comment:

  1. This is an incredible article series!! I was always fascinated with dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, especially sea creatures, when I was a little girl. Now days, I am a bit of an amateur naturalist, and I actually stumbled across your blog while trying to identify an animal in a picture. Not only was your blog very helpful, but I've found many interesting articles, such as this one. I never knew that many lizards have a third eye!?! Thank you Zack for these great posts! I look forwards to reading many more! :)


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