Leopluridon - Palaeobiology - Size


Estimating the maximum size of Liopleurodon has become a controversial subject. The palaeontologist L. B. Tarlo suggested that the total body length of a pliosaur (including Liopleurodon) can be estimated from its skull length. Tarlo claimed that the skull of a pliosaur is typically about one-seventh of the total body length. The largest known skull belonging to L. ferox is 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) long. According to Tarlo's hypothesis, this specimen would be around 10.5 metres (34 ft) long. However, the case of Kronosaurus exposed some uncertainty about the accuracy of Tarlo's suggestion.

New research on pliosaur anatomy has cast doubt on Tarlo's hypothesis for estimating the size of pliosaurs and revealed that pliosaur skulls were typically about one-fifth of the total body length. An exceptionally well-preserved skeleton of L. ferox is on display in the Institut und Museum für Geologie und Paläontologie der Universität Tübingen in Germany. This specimen is around 4.5 metres (15 ft) long. Fossil remains of another specimen identified as L. ferox have been excavated from an Oxford Clay formation near Peterborough. This specimen has been estimated to be 6.39 metres (21.0 ft) in length with a skull length of about 1.26 metres (4.1 ft) and is regarded as an adult individual. An adult L. ferox would have averaged 5–7 metres (16–23 ft) long.

Some fossil remains excavated from the Kimmeridge Clay formation in England indicate a much larger taxon, possibly up to 15 metres (49 ft) long. However, these have not been assigned to the genus Liopleurodon.

A partial specimen of a jaw mandible measuring 2.875 metres (9.43 ft) is on display in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History: it is estimated that the total length of the jaw is in excess of 3 metres (9.8 ft). The specimen was originally assigned to the genus Stretosaurus (as Stretosaurus macromerus),. Stretosaurus later became a junior synonym of Liopleurodon. However, it was later re-classified as Pliosaurus macromerus.

In 1999, Liopleurodon was featured in an episode the BBC television series Walking with Dinosaurs, which depicted it as an enormous 25 m (82 ft) long animal. However, this is not considered to be accurate for any species of Liopleurodon.

Read more about this topic:  Leopluridon, Palaeobiology

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