Liopleurodon (Lie-oh-ploor-oh-don), Smooth sided teeth, was a pliosaur; the tiger of the sea, preying on sharks, large squid and ichthyosaurs. Two species of Liopleurodon lived during the Callovian stage of the Middle Jurassic Period, while the third, L. rossicus, lived during the Late Jurassic. The largest species, L. ferox, is estimated to have grown up to 21 feet in length (Dixon, 2006).
Genera and Species
Classification: Plesiosauria, Pliosauroidea, Pliosauridae
Species: L. ferox, L. pachydeirus, L. rossicus
Synonyms: Pliosaurus pachydeirus, Pliosaurus pachydirus, Thaumatosaurus mosquensis.
Liopleurodon was a powerful swimmer but not a speedy swimmer. It had four flippers; the front paddles were used to steer while the back acted like wings. This method allows for very good acceleration. The skull and jaws take up one fifth of the total length of the body. The arrangement of the nostrils suggests they were not used for breathing but to taste the water. This could enable Liopleurodon to taste the water, perhaps following the blood of fresh kills.
LENGTH: 6 – 7.5 m (33 ft).
WEIGHT: 7 tons.
As the apex predator, it preyed upon other marine reptiles, sharks and the giant fish of the Jurassic. Ichthyosaur fossils show evidence of having been torn to pieces by a large pliosaur.
History of Discovery
Discovery, Sauvage – 1873, with fossils referred to Liopleurodon having been found in England, France and Germany and possibly further south in Argentina and Mexico.
They ranged worldwide through inshore and deep sea marine environments.
1. Dixon, D. (2006). The Complete Book of Dinosaurs (pp. 10-12). London UK: Hermes House.
2. Liopleurodon. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2014, from http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/l/Liopleurodon.html
3. Knol, R. (2011, June 13). Pliosaurs from the Late Jurassic. Retrieved May 22, 2014, from http://www.dinosaurcollectorsitea.com/jur_sea_pliosaur.html
4. Plesiosauria. (2010, February 3). Liopleurodon.
5. Smith, A. (n.d.). Liopleurodon Sauvage, 1873. Retrieved May 22, 2014, from http://plesiosauria.com/liopleurodon.php