Liopleurodon is famous for being one of the most powerful carnivores that are known to have ever existed on our planet. They had jaws that were massive in size, and most probably, their bite was stronger than that of a mighty Tyrannosaurus. Imagine this: A Liopleurodon could have easily lifted, bitten, and munched through a medium-sized car like a Chevy with apparent ease.
The spinal cord bones of these terrifying marine reptiles were the size of your dinner plates!
Here seven fascinating facts about these majestic carnivorous creatures from the Dinosaur age:
How the Liopleurodon got its name.
Like most of the prehistoric animals which were discovered in the 19th century, Liopleurodon was also named when fossil evidence – though scanty – was found. The discovery of three of its teeth, nearly three inches in length, were dug out in an excavation in a town in France in 1873. The name Liopleurodon actually means ‘Smooth-Sided Teeth’ in Greek.
Liopleurodon was a Pliosaur.
Long heads, attached to short necks, comparatively speaking, and elongated flippers joined to bully torsos – these characteristics defined the marine reptiles of the Mesozoic Era known as the Pliosaurs. Liopleurodon was a true-blue Pliosaur. The Plesiosaurs, in relative contrast, had smaller heads, longer necks, and their bodies were more streamlined.
During the Jurassic age, the world’s oceans were filled with a plethora of these magnificent creatures from both families. Their vast number could be compared with the presence of the great white sharks today.
Liopleurodon’s length and weight.
This massive sea beast has been measured to have been about 30 feet long. It is suspected to have been the ‘biggest Pliosaur ever,’ but species like the Kronosaurs and some other Pliosaurs have also been considered as solid contenders for the spot.
It weighed nearly 10 tons as a full-grown adult reptile. The Liopleurodon is clearly said to be the apex predator of the marine ecosystem it inhabited as it loved feeding on squids, fish, and other marine reptiles, smaller in size.
These Pliosaurs couldn’t breathe underwater.
Since the Liopleurodons had lungs but no gills on them, they’d surface through water occasionally for rapid gulps of air to help them breathe. Dolphins, seals, and whales today do exactly that.
Liopleurodon had a razor-sharp sense of smell underwater.
One of the mightiest aquatic predators of all time, the Liopleurodons were ferocious hunters. Their elongated jaws and needle-sharp pointed teeth made crocodiles, other Pliosaurs, giant fishes like the Leedsichthys, ichthyosaurs susceptible to a fatal attack by these terrifying beasts.
But what made them exceptionally good at hunting was not their teeth, but their acute sense of smell underwater, which allowed them to spot their prey from miles away. Their nostrils on the snout were arranged in a way to enable them to taste the water, probably especially after fresh kills when there is blood in the water.
Reproduction by live birth.
Scientists have discovered evidence about these ferocious marine reptiles’ reproduction method, and they believe that Liopleurdons gave birth to their young ones alive, instead of laying eggs. The fossil of a 78-year-old pregnant Pliosaur suggested that they gave birth to a single, large-sized young reptile. And that they probably went to shallower waters for breeding.
Liopleurodons went extinct 150 million years ago.
When the Cretaceous period began, about 150 million years ago, the progress of evolution and newer, sleeker, much more vicious marine reptiles called the Mosasaurs threatened and eventually wiped out the Liopleurodon species completely.
They had existed from the Callovian Age to the Berriasian Age.