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Liopleurodon

'Smooth-sided tooth'

WWD

Liopleurodon was an aquatic reptile predator with four paddle-like fins and an enormous pair of jaws. Liopleurodon was an average sized plesiosaur. A great beast dubbed 'Predator X' has recently been discovered. This mysterious creature may have been three times the size of Liopleurodon. This finding highlights that pliosaurs were definitely the kings of the oceans during much of the reign of the dinosaurs.

They call it home

This aquatic reptile was found in a strip of ancient rock running through Oxford, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire in England known as the Callovian Clay. Its fossils have also been found in France and Russia. The Callovian Clay has been preserved for the last 160 million years and contains remnants of numerous other creatures, such as marine crocodiles and ichthyosaurs.

What big teeth you have

What big teeth you have

Liopleurodon's teeth could reach a whopping 10cm (4in) in length – that's the length of a Swiss Army knife and about as sharp too.

Nose knowledge

Nose knowledge

Liopleurodon, much like a great white shark, probably would have used its very powerful sense of smell to locate prey, like an undersea bloodhound.

The most fantastic find

The most fantastic find

The very first Liopleurodon fossil ever to be discovered was found by Henri Émile Sauvage in 1873. He uncovered a tooth, near Boulogne-sur-Mer in France, and named the creature Liopleurodon ferox. It would become the most famous of all Liopleurodon species.

Liopleurodon features

Liopleurodon features Height: 3m (9.84ft)
Length: 7m (22.96ft)
Weight: 2.5 tonnes (2.8 short tons)
Top speed: 10kph (6.21mph)
Vision: Liopleurodon probably would have had good binocular vision, making them adept underwater hunters.
Skin: While it isn't known directly from fossils, based on the skin of living animals that have similar ecology like whales and dolphins, Liopleurodon probably had fairly smooth skin for streamlining through the water.
Headlines: Liopleurodon had a skull 1.26m (4.1ft) long – about the height of an adult human – and most of that would have been its jaws.
Prey: Liopleurodon would have been a solitary hunter, preying on giant fish, ichthyosaurs and even other plesiosaurs.
Bite: Liopleurodon's teeth could reach a whopping 10cm (3.9in) in length.

Liopleurodon facts and theories

Liopleurodon facts and theories

  1. Liopleurodon would move like no other marine animal we know of today, moving effortlessly through the water flapping its four flippers like wings.
  2. Liopleurodon lived in the ocean and seas of the Jurassic with other awesome prehistoric marine animals. Its fossils are restricted to Europe, but it may have been more widespread.
  3. Despite its status as a fierce predator, Liopleurodon is thought to have swum at speeds of just under 10kph (6mph), which is pretty slow. Modern dolphins can swim at double this speed.
  4. Some intriguing research using robots has suggested that Liopleurodon and other plesiosaurs were probably ambush predators, which could not swim at high speeds for long distances but could surprise prey with a sudden burst of speed during an attack.
  5. The bite force of Liopleurodon is unknown, though Predator X is thought to have had a bite force of 15 tonnes per square inch. That's more pressure than a hydraulic press for creating springs!