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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 20, 2021

15 Attenborosaurus Facts You’ll Never Forget

Attenborosaurus facts such as this was a pliosaur found in England in the early Jurassic Period.

Attenborosaurus is an extinct genus of the family Pliosauridae found in the Early Jurassic Period. The fossil of this pliosaurid reptile was found in Dorset, England and the genus is named after the broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. The classification shows the type species of the genus is Attenborosaurus conybeari (also with the synonym Plesiosaurus conybeari). The type species name has actually been given in remembrance of William Conybeare. The fossils of the species were discovered in Charmouth, Dorset of England. However, the fossils were destroyed during the World War II in the month of November in 1940. Due to the destroyed fossils, only plaster casts of the fossils were left related to the species for research. At first, after rigorous research, the marine species was thought to be a part of the genus Plesiosaurus (hence the scientific name Plesiosaurus conybeari). This revelation was done by William Johnson Sollas in 1881. However, when the plaster cast was made from the fossil skeleton found and referred at last, it was found that the fossil should be given a new genus and was given the status of Attenborosaurus in 1993 by Robert T. Bakker.

The partial fossil skeleton found of the marine species consisted of the body, flippers and skin impressions. However, after the World War, the plaster cast of the skeleton revealed that the body structure was actually very different than the Plesiosaurus genus. This is the moment the plaster cast helped move the marine species from the family Plesiosauridae to Pliosauridae. Pliosaur species had the same body structure as the referred species Plesiosaur, however, with a shorter neck and a longer head. Like a lot of Plesiosaur reptiles, Attenborosaurus and Thalassiodracon were hunters of smaller animals like cephalopods and fish. The suspected plesiosaur Attenborosaurus conybeare were probably a dominant predator of seas until some other species. With a small head, long neck, and a round body, P. conybeari was one of a triumph discovery until ofcourse the complete skeleton fossil was destroyed. Attenborosaurus skin impressions were also known with the original specimen.

We don't even know half of the species that dwelled on the planet millions of years ago in history. Dinosaurs, reptiles, amphibians, and other species of animals roamed and dominated a range of habitats in the world and we have just discovered some fossils of these different species. For more relatable content, check out these Brontosaurus facts and Orodromeus fun facts for kids.

Attenborosaurus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce Attenborosaurus?

The genus was named Attenborosaurus and is pronounced as 'Atten-boro-saw-ras'.

What type of dinosaur was an Attenborosaurus?

It was actually not a dinosaur, but lived in the same time as the dinosaurs in the early Jurassic period. Attenborosaurs is an extinct genus of pliosaur but was earlier considered a plesiosaur. The skeleton fossil of P. conybeari was first discovered in England and is named after the famous broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. Only after the skeleton was destroyed in the World War II, a plaster cast was left and the genus was considered for pliosaur, rather than plesiosaur. It was at last given the status of a genus in 1993 by Bakker.

In which geological period did the Attenborosaurus roam the earth?

The geological period of the existence of the marine P. conybeari species is early Jurassic period. Last referred as a plesiosaur, now this species hold their right place as a pliosaur.

When did the Attenborosaurus become extinct?

We just know that the marine species named Attenborosaurus lived in the early Jurassic Period. This period basically starts from the end of the extinction event of the Triassic-Jurassic which is around 201 million years ago and ends at the beginning of the Middle Jurassic Period which is around 174 million years ago. The complete cycle is from 201-174 million years.

Where did an Attenborosaurus live?

The partial specimen of the marine species was discovered in Charmouth in Dorset of Southern England. This was back in the year 1940. All related original specimen was however destroyed in the World War II and only a plaster cast was left to be referred to.

What was an Attenborosaurus' habitat?

The species in the genus named Attenborosaurus wildlife habitat consisted of marine environment. They lived underwater and fed on the living organisms in those habitats.

Who did an Attenborosaurus live with?

We don't know about the company these reptile used to keep. The original specimen recovered is also not enough to get much information from as it's not just enough.

How long did an Attenborosaurus live?

The life span of this particular species is not known and the cast is not enough to know the age. Scientists believe the pliosaurs in general lived for an age up to 65 years.

How did they reproduce?

There is no information available on the reproduction of this species. They probably gave birth to live young rather than laying eggs but not much information is provided to corroborate this theory. If they gave live birth, it would be a single young.

Attenborosaurus Fun Facts

What did an Attenborosaurus look like?

Referring to the single partial specimen and the plaster cast, it was barely 16 ft (4.8 m) in length and lived underwater like its plesiosaur cousins. Skin impression of the specimen was destroyed later, but before it was found that the species had membranous skin. It probably helped reducing water resistances. The genus Attenborosaurus consisted of a species with a round body with four limb paddles and a long neck. The Natural History Museum in London has the most complete plaster cast on display. The small head, round body, and long neck can easily be noticed on the cast on display in London. The body of the species in the genus named Attenborosaurus was probably devoid of any large scales.

The Attenborosaurus teeth were probably sharp to securely grasp the prey in the water.

Attenborosaurus facts are interesting.
*We've been unable to source an image of Attenborosaurus and have used an image of a Edmontonia dinosaur instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Attenborosaurus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]

How many bones did an Attenborosaurus have?

As the complete skeleton of the original fossil is not seen or known, the number of bones is also not known of the species.

How did they communicate?

They probably communicated with the help of voice or visual cues. But information on this is not available.

How big was an Attenborosaurus?

The Attenborosaurus length is estimated to be around 16 ft (4.8 m).

Other than this, we don't know much about the Attenborosaurus size. Wildlife species in marine environments probably were not as big as other plesiosaur and pliosaur species predating on most living organisms down under.

The Attenborosaurus height is also not known.

How fast could an Attenborosaurus move?

The speed is not known but the type of skin on the species probably helped them swim faster and swiftly in the tropical waters.

How much did an Attenborosaurus weigh?

The weight is not known.

What were the male and female names of the species?

There is no information available on the male and female names of this species.

What would you call a baby Attenborosaurus?

This information is not known.

What did they eat?

They were known to be piscivores and fed on fish and other organisms in the water. The long neck probably helped them snap a fish out of a school. The sharp teeth would have helped too.

How aggressive were they?

They were probably mildly aggressive.

Did you know...

The classification of the genus is a little dubious as the specimen recovered was earlier considered a plesiosaur, but further studies on the cast made it clear that the specimen actually belonged to a new genus named Attenborosaurus (pliosaur).

They were probably a little slimy, but information is not given.

Who was the Attenborosaurus named after and why?

Paleontologist Robert Bakker renamed the species in 1993 as Attenborosaurus after the legendary BBC nature documentary narrator Sir David Attenborough. The species name was given to refer William Conybeare. He was one of the two people who earlier named the genus in 1821.

How strong were their teeth?

It had sharp teeth which probably helped get a secure grip on the prey.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Atrociraptor facts, or Zigongosaurus facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable winged dinosaurs coloring pages.

Main image by Nobu Tamura.

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