Plesiosaur fossils on the coast of Asturias

Aragonese dinosaur hominid and maƱo by adoption and inclination, Rupert Glasgow has kindly sent me the latest update on Spanish dinosaurs from aragosaurus, this time news of Plesiosaur fossils on the coast of Asturias.

The latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (March, 2008) features a paper entitled “A Juvenile Plesiosaur from the Pliensbachian (Lower Jurassic) of Asturias, Spain”.

Plesiosaurs were marine reptiles that flourished through much of the Mesozoic Era, from the Upper Triassic to the Cretaceous. Along with the ichthyosaurs and the pliosaurs, they were classic “sea-monsters” or “sea-serpents” from the age of dinosaurs. Famously described as “a snake threaded through the body of a turtle”, or as resembling some strange cross between a lizard, a crocodile and a turtle, they combined barrel-like bodies, four flippers and a mouthful of sharp teeth: they were powerful and highly successful predators. Later forms from the Cretaceous reached lengths of 15 metres and had exceedingly long necks. Among cryptozoologists, the plesiosaur has traditionally been one of the favourite candidates as a possible Loch Ness Monster.

According to the authors of the paper, the size of the specimen found in Asturias suggests that it was an immature individual with an estimated body length of 1.8 metres. The fossil remains include eight vertebral centra, seven neural arches and sixteen ribs, which were recovered at the foot of the Santa Mera sea-cliffs, near Villaviciosa. They are currently on display in the Jurassic Museum of Asturias (MUJA).

The bones are excellently preserved, yet as the incomplete nature of the specimen makes precise identification impossible, the authors assign it to indeterminate Plesiosauroidea. It is the most complete plesiosaur yet found in Spain, one of the few specimens of young plesiosaur worldwide, and also one of the few specimens of plesiosaur dating from the Pliensbachian, some 183-89 million years ago.

For more information: see www.aragosaurus.com (Noticias, 19 April 2008)

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