Marine reptile

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sea turtle.

Marine reptiles are reptiles which have become secondarily adapted for an aquatic or semi-aquatic life in a marine environment.

The earliest marine reptiles arose in the Permian period during the Paleozoic era. During the Mesozoic era, many groups of reptiles became adapted to life in the seas, including such familiar clades as the ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs (these two orders were once thought united in the group "Enaliosauria,"[1] a classification now cladistically obsolete), mosasaurs, nothosaurs, placodonts, sea turtles, thalattosaurs and thalattosuchians.

After the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period, marine reptiles were less numerous. Extant marine reptiles include marine iguanas, sea snakes, sea turtles and saltwater crocodiles. The Murua Gharial was yet another example of a fully marine reptile, that became extinct rather recently.

Some marine reptiles, such as ichthyosaurs and mosasaurs, rarely ventured onto land and gave birth in the water. Others, such as sea turtles and saltwater crocodiles, return to shore to lay their eggs. Some marine reptiles also occasionally rest and bask on land.

The marine iguana Amblyrhynchus cristatus is an iguana found only on the Galápagos Islands that has the ability, unique among modern lizards, to live and forage in the sea, making it a marine reptile. Photographed swimming in Puerto Ayora, located on the southern shore of Santa Cruz Island.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Williston SW (1914) Water Reptiles of the Past and Present University of Chicago Press (reprint 2002). ISBN 1-4021-4677-9