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The Plesiosaur is not actually a dinosaur, but rather a large swimming reptile.
Plesiosaur is Greek for "nearer to the reptiles". This name is given to this creature
because it is something in-between reptiles and fish.

What did they look like?
There were different types of Plesiosaurs which were different from each other in
size and in shape. The shortest were 2.5 metres long and the longest were 14
metres long! That is about as long as 8 adults lying in one long line! They all had long
necks with small heads on the end. Their tummies were oval-shaped with two front
flippers and two back flippers. They had long tails, though much shorter than their

Scientists first thought that they swam close to the surface of the water (as the
picture on the left shows). This way they could stick their head above the water
and look down on fish. But because their eyes are placed facing slightly upwards,
this is probably not true. They probably swam completely underwater and used
their long necks to dart their heads towards fish. Plesiosaurs were very successful,
and there were many types.

What did they eat?
They ate fish, squids, molluscs and other small sea creatures. Recently, scientists
have found evidence that the Plesiosaurs may have also been "bottom-feeders".
That is they would feed from the bottom of the sea - on things like clams and snails.

When did they live?
They lived from the early Jurassic to the end of the Cretaceous period. That is from
about 220 million years to about 65 million years ago. Plesiosaurs, like dinosaurs,
lived in the Mesozoic era.

Where did they live?
Some people think that they could climb out of the water and crawl around on
land, like seals. But other scientists disagree with this. Either way they would have
spent a lot of their time under water. And because they were air-breathing
animals, they would have to come up to the water surface for air every now and

Their fossils were found in England, Germany, Japan, Australia and USA. They lived
also in Manitoba, Canada, and Mexico

How were they discovered?
The first Plesiosaur was discovered in 1821 by Mary Anning, in England.
Modern mysteries around the Plesiosaurs

The most famous mysteries around these creatures is the Loch Ness Monster. There
are a lot of stories of some large creature in the lake called Loch Ness in Scotland.
Most descriptions of the monster are close to what the Plesiosaurs must have
looked like. Some of the sightings have been proven to be a hoax and at present
there are not scientific proof of the existence of the animal but many people
believe in it. The study and search for animals which fall outside of contemporary
zoological catalogues has the name of Cryptozoology.

In 1977, some Japanese fishermen off the coast of New Zealand found a very
rotten carcass of some large creature with flippers. It was so rotten that it was
very hard to tell anything from it, but some people believed that it was a
Plesiosaur. Scientists however ascertained it was a certain type of shark, fallen to
bits because it was so rotten.

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