Brevia

Bottom-Feeding Plesiosaurs

Science  07 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5745, pp. 75
DOI: 10.1126/science.1117241

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Abstract

Elasmosaurid plesiosaurs were an important part of Cretaceous marine reptile communities and are generally considered to have been predators of small, agile, free-swimming fish and cephalopods. Two elasmosaurid specimens from Aptian and Albian deposits in Queensland, Australia, include fossilized gut contents dominated by benthic invertebrates: bivalves, gastropods, and crustaceans. Both specimens also contained large numbers of gastroliths (stomach stones). These finds point to a wider niche than has previously been supposed for these seemingly specialized predators and may also influence long-running controversy over the question of gastrolith function in plesiosaurs.

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