Nothosaurus

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Nothosaurus
Temporal range: 240–210 Ma
Early to Late Triassic
Skeleton Nothosauria naturkundemuseum Berlin.jpg
Nothosaurus skeleton restoration in Berlin
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Superorder: Sauropterygia
Order: Nothosauroidea
Family: Nothosauridae
Subfamily: Nothosaurinae
Nopcsa, 1923
Genus: Nothosaurus
Münster, 1834
Type species
Nothosaurus mirabilis
Münster, 1834
Species
  • N. cymatosauroides Sanz, 1983
  • N. edingerae Schultze, 1970
  • N. giganteus Münster, 1834
  • N. haasi Rieppel et al., 1997
  • N. jagisteus Rieppel, 2001
  • N. juvenilis Edinger, 1921
  • N. marchicus Koken, 1893
  • N. mirabilis Münster, 1834 (type)
  • N. rostellatus Shang, 2006
  • N. tchernovi Haas, 1980
  • N. winkelhorsti Klein and Albers, 2009
  • N. yangjuanensis Jiang et al., 2006
  • N. youngi Li and Rieppel, 2004
  • N. zhangi Liu et al., 2014
Synonyms

Nothosaurus (meaning false reptile) is an extinct genus of sauropterygian reptile from the Triassic period, approximately 240-210 million years ago, with fossils being distributed from North Africa and Europe to China. It is the best known member of the nothosaur order.

A complete skeleton of the species Nothosaurus raabi, now a synonym of N. marchicus, can be seen in the Natural History Museum in Berlin.

Palaeobiology[edit]

N. mirabilis

Nothosaurus was a semi-oceanic animal which probably had a lifestyle similar to that of today's seals. It was about 4 metres (13 ft), with long, webbed toes and possibly a fin on its tail.[1] When swimming, Nothosaurus would use its tail, legs, and webbed feet to propel and steer it through the water. The skull was broad and flat, with long jaws, lined with needle teeth, it probably caught fish and other marine creatures. Nothosaurus hunted by sneaking up slowly on prey, such as shoals of small fish, then putting on a last-minute burst of speed[citation needed]. Trackways attributed, partly by process of elimination, to a nothosaur, that were reported from Yunnan, China in June 2014, were interpreted as the paddle impressions left as the animals dug into soft seabed with rowing motions of their paddles, churning up hidden benthic creatures that they snapped up.[2] Once caught, few animals would be able to shake themselves free from the mouth of Nothosaurus.

In many respects its body structure resembled that of the much later plesiosaurs, but it was not as well adapted to an aquatic environment. It is thought that one branch of the nothosaurs may have evolved into plesiosaurs such as Liopleurodon, a short-necked plesiosaur that grew up to 6.4 metres (21 ft), and the long-necked Cryptoclidus, a fish eater with a neck as long as 9 metres (30 ft).

Species[edit]

Nothosaurus marchicus, previously known as N. raabi, fossil at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin

There are over a dozen known species of Nothosaurus. The type species is N. mirabilis, named in 1834 from the Germanic Muschelkalk. Other species include N. giganteus (previously known as Paranothosaurus) from Osnabrück, Germany;[3] N. juvenilis, also from Germany;[4] N. edingerae from the Upper Muschelkalk and Lower Keuper;[5] N. haasi and N. tchernovi from Makhtesh Ramon, Israel;[6][7] N. cymatosauroides from the Spanish Muschelkalk;[8] N. jagisteus from the Upper Muschelkalk of Hohenlohe, Germany;[9] and N. youngi, N. yangjuanensis, N. rostellatus and the recently named gigantic N. zhangi from Guizhou, China.[10][11][12][13] Several species have been described from the Lower Muschelkalk in Winterswijk, the Netherlands, including N. marchicus[14] (and its junior synonym[15] N. winterswijkensis[14]) and the recently named N. winkelhorsti.[16]

Cladogram of species of Nothosaurus
Nothosaurus 


N. edingerae




N. giganteus



N. mirabilis




N. haasi



N. tchemovi




N. jagisteus




N. marchicus



N. winterswijkensis



N. youngi



N. yangiuanensis




N. juvenilis



N. winkelhorsti



Klein and Albers (2009)[16] didn't tested the monophyly of Nothosaurus, as other nothosaurids weren't included.

Several other species have been named but are know generally considered invalid. One such species, N. procerus, is now considered a junior subjective synonym of N. marchicus.[17][18] Other species now considered junior synonyms of N. marchicus include N. crassus, N. oldenburgi, N. raabi, N. schroderi, N. venustus and the recently named N. winterswijkensis.[15] Junior synonyms of N. giganteus, the second largest Nothosaurus species, include N. andriani, N. angustifronis, N. aduncidens, N. baruthicus and N. chelydrops.[13]

A species level phylogenetic analysis of Nothosauridae was performed by Liu et al. (2014), and included all known valid species of the family and Nothosaurus apart from Lariosaurus stensioi (type of Micronothosaurus), Nothosaurus cymatosauroides, and Ceresiosaurus lanzi. Due to the inclusion of other nothosaurids other than Nothosaurus, the monophyly of Nothosaurus was tested for the first time. The analysis found both Lariosaurus and Nothosaurus to be polyphyletic in regard to each-other and all the other genera of the family, making a systematic revision of these two genera necessary. Below, their results are shown with type species of named nothosaurid genera noted.[13]



Pachypleurosauria


 Nothosauria 

Simosaurus gaillardoti


 Nothosauridae 

Germanosaurus latissimus (type of Germanosaurus)



N. zhangi



N. haasi



N. edingerae





N. jagisteus




N. mirabilis (type of Nothosaurus)



N. tchemovi







N. marchicus



N. yangiuanensis





N. giganteus




N. juvenilis




Lariosaurus hongguoensis





Lariosaurus buzzii (type of Silvestrosaurus)



N. winkelhorsti






Lariosaurus xingyiensis



N. youngi






Lariosaurus calcagnii (type of Ceresiosaurus)



Lariosaurus valceresii





Lariosaurus balsami (type of Lariosaurus)



Lariosaurus curionii














In popular culture[edit]

In the Rite of Spring segment of Disney's Fantasia, Nothosaurus is briefly depicted; feeding its young and as the anachronistic prey of Dimetrodon.

Nothosaurus was featured in the 2003 BBC series Sea Monsters, a spin-off of the successful Walking with Dinosaurs (1999). Two of them were featured as minor characters that Nigel Marven kept at bay with an electric tazer, before realizing that they meant no harm. He then clamped down on their jaws with his hands like people do with crocodilians to see how they would react. They then swam away.

References[edit]

  • Parker, Steve. Dinosaurus: the complete guide to dinosaurs. Firefly Books Inc, 2003. Pg. 384
  1. ^ Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 72. ISBN 1-84028-152-9. 
  2. ^ (LiveScience) Tia Ghose, "Ancient long-necked 'sea monsters' rowed their way to prey", reporting the scientific article published in Nature Communications 11 June 2014: accessed 28 November 2014.
  3. ^ Diedrich, C. (2009). "The vertebrates of the Anisian/Ladinian boundary (Middle Triassic) from Bissendorf (NW Germany) and their contribution to the anatomy, palaeoecology, and palaeobiogeography of the Germanic Basin reptiles". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 273 (1): 1–16. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2008.10.026. 
  4. ^ Rieppel, O. (1994). "The status of the sauropterygian reptile Nothosaurus juvenilis from the Middle Triassic of Germany". Palaeontology 37: 733–745. 
  5. ^ Rieppel, O.; Wild, R. (1994). "Nothosaurus edingerae Schultze, 1970: diagnosis of the species and comments on its stratigraphical occurrence". Stuttgarter Beiträge für Naturkunde, Serie B. 
  6. ^ Rieppel, O.; Mazin, J.-M.; Tchernov, E. (1997). "Speciation along rifting continental margins: a new Nothosaur from the Negev (Israël)". Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences Series IIA 325 (12): 991–997. doi:10.1016/s1251-8050(97)82380-4. 
  7. ^ Rieppel, O.; Mazin, J.-M.; Tchernov, E. (1999). "Sauropterygia from the Middle Triassic of Makhtesh Ramon, Negev, Israel". Fieldiana 1 (40). 
  8. ^ Rieppel, O.; Hagdorn, H. (1998). "Fossil reptiles from the Spanish Muschelkalk (mont-ral and alcover, province Tarragona)". Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology 13 (1): 77–97. doi:10.1080/08912969809386575. 
  9. ^ Shang, Q.-H. (2007). "New information on the dentition and tooth replacement of Nothosaurus (Reptilia: Sauropterygia)". Palaeoworld 16: 254–263. doi:10.1016/j.palwor.2007.05.007. 
  10. ^ Li, J.; Rieppel, O. (2004). "A new nothosaur from Middle Triassic of Guizhou, China". Vertebrata PalAsiatica 42 (1): 1–12. 
  11. ^ Jiang, W.; Maisch, M. W.; Hao, W.; Sun, Y.; Sun, Z. (2006). "Nothosaurus yangjuanensis n. sp. (Reptilia, Sauropterygia, Nothosauridae) from the middle Anisian (Middle Triassic) of Guizhou, southwestern China". NeuesJahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Monatshefte 5: 257–276. 
  12. ^ Shang, Q.-H. (2006). "A new species of Nothosaurus from the early Middle Triassic of Guizhou,China". Vertebrata PalAsiatica 44 (3): 237–249. 
  13. ^ a b c Jun Liu, Shi-xue Hu, Olivier Rieppel, Da-yong Jiang, Michael J. Benton, Neil P. Kelley, Jonathan C. Aitchison, Chang-yong Zhou, Wen Wen, Jin-yuan Huang, Tao Xie and Tao Lv (2014). "A gigantic nothosaur (Reptilia: Sauropterygia) from the Middle Triassic of SW China and its implication for the Triassic biotic recovery". Scientific Reports 4: Article number 7142. doi:10.1038/srep07142. 
  14. ^ a b Albers, P. C. H. (2005). "A new specimen of Nothosaurus marchicus with features that relate the taxon to Nothosaurus winterswijkensis". Vertebrate Palaeontology 3 (1): 1–7. 
  15. ^ a b Albers, P.C.H. (August 2011). "New Nothosaurus skulls from the Lower Muschelkalk of the western Lower Saxony Basin (Winterswijk, the Netherlands) shed new light on the status of Nothosaurus winterswijkensis". Netherlands Journal of Geosciences 90 (1): 15–22. doi:10.1017/S0016774600000639. 
  16. ^ a b Klein, N.; Albers, P. C. H. (2009). "A new species of the sauropsid reptile Nothosaurus from the Lower Muschelkalk of the western Germanic Basin, Winterswijk, The Netherlands". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54 (4): 589–598. doi:10.4202/app.2008.0083. 
  17. ^ Schroder, H. (1914). "Wirbeltiere der Riidersdorfer Trias". Abhandlungen der Preussischen Geologischen Landesanstalt, Neue Folge 65: 1–98. 
  18. ^ Rieppel, O.; Wild, R. (1996). "A revision of the genus Nothosaurus (Reptilia. Sauropterygia) from the Germanic Triassic with comments on the status of Conchiosaurus clavatus". Fieldiana 1 (34): 1–82. 

General references[edit]

  • Dixon, Dougal (2006). The Complete Book of Dinosaurs. Hermes House.
  • Haines, Tim, and Paul Chambers. The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life. Pg. 64. Canada: Firefly Books Ltd., 2006