Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Elasmosaurus is a genus of plesiosaur with an extremely long neck that lived in the Late Cretaceous.

It was about 14 m (46 ft) in length and weighed over 2,000 kg (2.2 tons), making it the second longest plesiosaur. It had a large body and four flippers for limbs. More than half of its length was neck, which had more than 70 vertebrae, more than any other animal. It had a relatively small head with sharp teeth.

Elasmosaurus platyurus was described in March, 1868 by Edward Drinker Cope from a fossil discovered and collected by Dr. Theophilus Turner, a military doctor, in western Kansas, USA. Although other specimens of elasmosaurs have been found in various locations in North America, Carpenter (1999) determined that Elasmosaurus platyurus was the only representative of the genus.

When E. D. Cope received the specimen in early March, 1868, he had a pre-conceived idea of what it should look like, and mistakenly placed the head on the wrong end (e.g. the tail). In his defense, at the time he was an expert on lizards, which have a short neck and a long tail, and no one had ever seen a plesiosaur the size of Elasmosaurus.

An outdated historical depiction of Dryptosaurus confronting Elasmosaurus, with two Hadrosaurus in the background. By Edward Drinker Cope, 1869.

Although popular legend notes that it was Othniel Charles Marsh who pointed out the error, there is no factual justification for this account (see below). However, this event is often cited as one of the causes of their long-lasting and acrimonious rivalry, known as the Bone Wars. In fact, although Marsh personally collected at least one plesiosaur from Kansas, and had several more from Kansas in the Yale Peabody collection, he never published a single paper on them (Everhart, 2005).

Source from great site: http://www.copyrightexpired.com

Read more interesting topic about dinosaur fossils.


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