Are you fascinated by prehistoric animals? Then here we have all the information on these prehistoric marine reptiles, Brachauchenius. The Brachauchenius lucasi was a species of plesiosaur, more specifically a pliosaur that belonged to the family Pliosauridae and superorder Sauropterygia of Reptilia class. The fossils of these pliosaurs have been found in Kansas, United States of North America. Hence, it's believed that they lived in Kansas during the Cenomanian age. While the fossils were discovered by Charles Hazelius Sternberg, more information related to these specimens was reported by Everhart and Schumacher in 2005. They went extinct during the geological period of the Turonian age. These North American plesiosaurs were rather short-necked, unlike most other plesiosaurs. The length of the Brachauchenius could reach about 19.7-29.5 ft (6-9 m) as they grew up. According to a fossil of a large skull that was thought to be of Brachauchenius had a length of about 67 in (170 cm). Later, the skull turned out to be of Megacephalosaurus.
Read on to know more about Brachauchenius and if you like this article, then also check out Thalassomedon and Woolungasaurus.
No, the pliosaurid, Brachauchenius lucasi was not a species of dinosaur. They were actually a species of prehistoric marine reptile, more specifically, a pliosaur. They coexisted with other dinosaurs that lived in the ocean, but they themselves were not dinosaurs.
The phonetic pronunciation of 'Brachauchenius' is 'Brak-ow-ken-ee-us'.
Brachauchenius was a species of plesiosaur that belonged to the family Pliosauridae and superorder Sauropterygia of the Reptilia class. Its taxonomic position made it a part of the Pliosauroidea suborder.
Brachauchenius lucasi roamed the earth around 100.5 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic era. They were thought to be alive around the Cenomanian age.
It's believed that these pliosaurs went extinct around 89.3 million years ago at the time when the Turonian age of the late Cretaceous period during the Mesozoic era ended. The Cretaceous period was the longest period of the Mesozoic era. Quite a few extinction events happened during that period, but none happened in the Turonian age. Hence, it's still unknown what caused the Brachauchenius to go extinct.
The first fossil of this pliosaur was found in Ottawa County, Kansas in the United States. Later, another fossil was also found in Kansas in Russell County. The rest of the specimens were all found in the United States of North America as well. Hence, it can be easily assumed that they lived in the United States. However, it's also assumed that their geographical range might have extended beyond that.
Brachauchenius were marine reptiles, it's believed that they lived in open oceans. Additionally, the climate during the Cretaceous period was quite warm. However, during the later part of the Cretaceous period when the Cenozoic era was approaching fast, the climate started drying and cooling down a little by little. Hence, it's assumed that the Brachauchenius lived in a little cooler climate than its predecessors.
It's not known whether Brachauchenius lucasi lived solitary lives or in groups. However, plesiosaurs, in general, were known to live in groups, mainly for their own protection. Additionally, Brachauchenius also probably lived with other dinosaurs in the oceans in harmony.
Only a very little number of fossils of the Brachauchenius has been found to date. Hence, due to a lack of data, the exact lifespan of the Brachauchenius is not known.
Brachauchenius were alive about 89.3 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period. Only a very few fossils of the Brachauchenius have been found to date, so only very limited research on the reptile could have been done. That's why not much is known about the reproductive system of the Brachauchenius as well. The only thing scientists have been able to figure out about Brachauchenius is that they were viviparous in nature. From prehistoric times to this day, viviparous animals give birth to live young ones. All of them go through a pregnancy where the baby grows inside one parent and then the parent gives birth after a certain time passes which depend upon the development of the embryo in the parent's body. Brachauchenius also gave birth in the same manner.
Brachauchenius lucasi was a large reptile. They had long and slender bodies. They had four flippers on the ventral side of their body, which helped them move in the water smoothly. They lacked the long neck that the other plesiosaurs possessed. They were rather short-necked and had a long jaw. They had rows of Brachauchenius teeth that were needle-like sharp. Owing to these long jaws, only a fossil of their skull was found to be around 35.4 in (90 cm) in length.
Very few fossils of this pliosaur have been found to date. Hence, an entire skeleton of the Brachauchenius has not yet been made. Hence, the exact number of bones they had is still not known. However, from the fossils that have been discovered to date, scientists have found out that they had 37 vertebrae and a long skull.
Not much is known about how the Brachauchenius communicated with each other. It can only be assumed that they communicated the same way as some other animals, so they probably made some kind of sound. These sounds probably acted as signals to communicate with others of their own species or others.
An adult Brachauchenius size was around 19.7-29.5 ft (6-9 m) in length. They were slightly shorter than Kronosaurus, one of the largest pliosaurs. An adult Kronosaurus could grow up to about 36 ft (11 m) in length.
The exact speed at which Brachauchenius lucasi could move is not known. However, they appeared to have had flippers that helped them swim at a fast pace and smoothly in the water. Additionally, plesiosaurs in general had an ability to swim at an average speed of about 0.9 mph (1.4 kph) and at an optimum speed of about 5.6 mph (9 kph).
Due to a lack of data, the exact weight of the Brachauchenius is not known. However, it's been found that plesiosaurs in general, used to weigh around 1102.3 lb (500 kg) on average.
Males and females of the species had no specific names.
A baby Brachauchenius was called a juvenile.
These pliosaurs were purely carnivorous and predatory in nature. It's assumed that primarily they used to feed on fish. They might have preyed on other species that lived in the ocean as well. They had long jaws and sharp teeth which probably helped them catch their prey easily.
They were a predatory species, so quite naturally they acted aggressively when they were catching their prey. It's not known whether they were aggressive towards their own species when they were defending their territories or during the breeding season.
There was a fossil found in Colombia from the Barremian age that was thought to be a pre-occurrence of the Brachauchenius lucasi. However, upon a further research on the fossil from Colombia, scientists found out that there were many differences, so a new species had been found, Stenorhynchosaurus munozi.
These North American plesiosaurs were one of the last plesiosaurs known to roam the oceans during the Mesozoic era.
The name Brachauchenius means 'short neck'. Compared to other plesiosaurs, the Brachauchenius had short necks, which may have been the reason behind their name.
A few specimens of other species were considered as the Brachauchenius once. However, more research led to different results. Eventually, the first-ever remains of the Brachauchenius were found in 1884 by the renowned paleontologist, Charles Hazelius Sternberg in Ottawa County, Kansas. Much later, in 2005, Everhart and Schumacher published the age of the specimens collected from Kansas.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Palaeosaurus fun facts, or Bakonydraco facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable swimming dinosaur coloring pages.
Image one by Dmitry Bogdanov.