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Temporal range: Mid-Late Jurassic
~166–145 Ma
Cryptoclidus eurymerus Tubingen.JPG
Cast of a fossil skeleton, University of Tübingen
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Superorder: Sauropterygia
Order: Plesiosauria
Family: Cryptoclididae
Subfamily: Cryptoclidinae
Genus: Cryptoclidus
Seeley, 1892
Type species
Cryptoclidus eurymerus
  • C. beaugrandi Vadet & Rose 1986
  • C. cuervoi Torre & Rojas 1949
  • C. eurymerus Phillips 1871 (type)
  • C. oxoniensis Phillips 1871
  • C. richardsoni Lydekker 1889
  • C. vignalensis Torre & Cuervo 1939
  • Apractocleidus Smellie 1915

Cryptoclidus (/krɪptˈkldəs/ krip-toh-KLY-dəs) is a genus of plesiosaur reptile from the Middle to Late Jurassic period of England, France, Argentina and Cuba.[1]


Cryptoclidus is a plesiosaur whose specimens include adult and juvenile skeletons, and remains which have been found in various degrees of preservation in England, Northern France, Russia, and South America. Its name, meaning "hidden clavicles", refer to its small, practically invisible clavicles buried in its front limb girdle.

The type species was initially described as Plesiosaurus eurymerus by Phillips (1871). The species name "wide femur" refers to the forelimb, which was mistaken for a hindlimb at the time.


Skeleton of Cryptoclidus oxoniensis (AMNH 995)
Life restoration

The cladogram below follows the topology from Benson et al. (2012) analysis.[2]


"Pistosaurus postcranium"


Yunguisaurus liae

Augustasaurus hagdorni


Bobosaurus forojuliensis

NHMUK 49202 [now Anningasaura lymense]



Thalassiodracon hawkinsii

Hauffiosaurus spp.

Attenborosaurus conybeari

advanced pliosaurids (Peloneustes)


Eoplesiosaurus antiquior

Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus

Plesiopterys wildi

Cryptoclidus eurymerus


Eretmosaurus rugosus

Westphaliasaurus simonsensii

Seeleyosaurus guilelmiimperatoris

Microcleidus tournemiensis

Microcleidus brachypterygius

Microcleidus homalospondylus


Life reconstruction of Cryptoclidus eurymerus

The fragile build of the head and teeth preclude any grappling with prey, and suggest a diet of small, soft-bodied animals such as squid and shoaling fish. Cryptoclidus may have used its long, intermeshing teeth to strain small prey from the water, or perhaps sift through sediment for buried animals.[3]

The size and shape of the nares and nasal openings have led Brown and Cruickshank (1994) to argue that they were used to sample seawater for smells and chemical traces.[4]


Fossils of Cryptoclidus have been found in:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brown, David S., and Arthur RI Cruickshank. The skull of the Callovian plesiosaur Cryptoclidus eurymerus, and the sauropterygian cheek. Archived 2014-03-24 at the Wayback Machine Palaeontology 37.4 (1994): 941.
  2. ^ Benson, R. B. J.; Evans, M.; Druckenmiller, P. S. (2012). Lalueza-Fox, Carles (ed.). "High Diversity, Low Disparity and Small Body Size in Plesiosaurs (Reptilia, Sauropterygia) from the Triassic–Jurassic Boundary". PLoS ONE. 7 (3): e31838. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031838. PMC 3306369. PMID 22438869.
  3. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 75. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.
  4. ^ Brown and Cruickshank, 1994
  5. ^ Bologne-sur-Mer at
  6. ^ Lajas Formation at
  7. ^ Jagua Formation at

Further reading[edit]

  • Z. Gasparini and L. Spaletti. 1993. First Callovian plesiosaurs from the Neuquen Basin, Argentina. Ameghiniana 30(3):245-254

External links[edit]