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Temporal range: Middle Triassic, Anisian–Ladinian
Lariosaurus sp. - IMG 0661.jpg
Lariosaurus sp., Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Superorder: Sauropterygia
Order: Nothosauroidea
Family: Nothosauridae
Subfamily: Lariosaurinae
Genus: Lariosaurus
Curioni, 1847
Other species
  • L. balsami Curioni, 1847 (type)
  • L. buzzii Tschanz, 1989
  • L. curionii Rieppel, 1998
  • L. hongguoensis Jiang et al., 2006
  • L. juvenilis Edinger, 1921
  • L. stensioi (Haas, 1963) Rieppel, Mazin & Tchernov, 1999
  • L. valceresii Tintori & Renesto, 1990
  • L. vosseveldensis Klein et al., 2016
  • L. xingyiensis Li, Liu & Rieppel, 2002
  • L. youngi Li & Rieppel, 2004
  • L. winkelhorsti Klein & Albers, 2004

Lariosaurus is an extinct genus of nothosaurid from the Middle Triassic (late Anisian to late Ladinian stage) of central and western Europe and China. With a length of just 60 centimetres (2.0 ft), it was one of the smallest known nothosaurs. First discovered at Perledo on the Lake Como in 1830, it was named in 1847 by Curioni, its name meaning "Lizard from Larius", the ancient name of the lake.

The nothosaur Eupodosaurus, initially classified as a stegosaurian dinosaur, is now considered synonymous with Lariosaurus.

Lariosaurus balsami
Lariosaurus balsami

For a nothosaur, Lariosaurus was primitive, possessing a short neck and small flippers in comparison to its relatives. This would have made it a relatively poor swimmer, and it is presumed to have spent lots of time on dry land, or hunting in shallows.[1]

Lariosaurus was unique among nothosaurs because its front legs were adapted into paddles, while the back legs remained five-toed. Further, based on skeletal findings of immature lariosaurs inside the adults, Lariosaurus is believed by many to be viviparous, or able to bear live young. Another Lariosaurus skeleton was found with two juvenile placodonts of the genus Cyamodus in its stomach, giving an indication of its diet.

In 2014 a skull was found in the Winterswijk Muschekalk quarry, of what appeared to be a new species, that was named Lariosaurus vosseveldensis. In 2015 it was added to the collection of Museum TwentseWelle in Enschede. It was registered TW.480000504. Also found was an isolated, fused parietal, that was registered TW.4800000505.

In popular culture[edit]

Loch Ness mocking Lariosaurus sightings are often reported on the newspapers of the Lake Como area. The myth has been cited in various books,[2] songs[3] and TV programmes.[4]


  1. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 73. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  2. ^ Giorno, Il (2013-08-23). "Il lago di Como ha il suo mostro Tra leggende e avvistamenti la vera storia del Lariosauro - Il Giorno". Il Giorno (in Italian). Retrieved 2018-04-30. 
  3. ^ "Il mostro del lago di Como". Genius. Retrieved 2018-04-30. 
  4. ^ Mediaset. "Video Mistero: Il Lariosauro: un mostro nel lago di Como? - SERVIZI | MEDIASET ON DEMAND". Video Mediaset. Retrieved 2018-04-30. 
  • Dixon, Dougal (2006). The Complete Book of Dinosaurs. Hermes House.