Tanystropheus marine reptile fossils found in Italian glacier

This is a 2016 Tanystropheus video.

From Italian news agency ANSA:

‘Reptile giraffe’ fossils presented

Tanystropheus skeletons found in Italian glacier

Milan, November 22 – Recently found fossils of a 230-million-year-old ”reptile giraffe” were presented at Milan’s Natural History Museum on Thursday.

The fossilised skeletons are of an animal known to archaeologists as Tanystropheus longobardicus, a marine reptile with an extravagantly elongated neck and a total body length of nine metres.

Fossils of the Tanystropheus have been found in the past but those presented on Thursday – discovered during digs in the Besano glacier in the Alps – were exceptionally well conserved, experts said, ”These skeletons have allowed us to formulate more precise theories” about the species which lived in northern Italy,” said Stefania Nosotti, a researcher at the Natural History Museum.

The fossilised bones belonged to three young examples of the prehistoric beast often nicknamed the ‘reptile giraffe’ because of the long neck it used to get within range of prey without being noticed.

There is one virtually complete Tanystropheus skeleton, a more fragmentary one with a perfectly preserved cranium and finally the isolated leg of a third reptile.

Tanystropheus lived in shallow waters but came ashore too. On land, Tanystropheus ate insects and small reptiles. In the water, it would gobble up fish and molluscs.

Three quarters of its body length was its neck and tail. Scientists say that if its neck had been any longer its head might have snapped off. Tanystropheus was not a fast swimmer so often walked along the seabed looking for food. Like some lizards alive today, its tail could detach if seized by a predator, to allow an escape. It would then grow back.

6 thoughts on “Tanystropheus marine reptile fossils found in Italian glacier

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