Mean atmospheric O2
Geologic Time Scale
A pair of 40-foot-long plesiosaurs of the genus Elasmosaurus engage in a swimming courtship dance in a secluded saltwater lagoon 80 million years ago in what is today North America.* The gull-like toothed seabirds are from the genus Ichthyornis, the Cretaceous ecological equivalent of modern gulls, petrels, and skimmers.
At over two tons, Elasmosaurus was an air-breathing carnivorous reptile with flippers for limbs and a relatively small head with sharp teeth. More than half of its length was neck which had more than 70 vertebrae, more than any other animal.
*While Elasmosaurus is believed to have lived mostly in open ocean, here the artist is suggesting that these two have retreated to secluded lagoon for a romantic rendezvous, though there is no paleontological evidence supporting this behavior.
Copyright © Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.
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