The Liopleurodon was a genus of plesiosaur, i.e. a carnivorous marine reptile, which inhabited the oceans of Europe between the Callovian Stage of the Middle Jurassic to the Kimmeridgian stage of the Late Jurassic period. Once the apex predator of earth's waters, it was driven to extinction at the dawn of the Cretaceous period due to the introduction of the Mosasaurus, a more deadly predator which hunted down and wiped out the Liopleurodon from the sea. Mosasaurus was smaller in size, though. First discovered in 1873, it was given the name Liopleurodon which means smooth-sided teeth, referring to the discovery of three teeth in France, on which the genus name was coined. Two species have been thought to exist in this genus- the L.ferox and L.pachydeirus. Its fossil remains have been discovered mainly around England and France, near the sea.
To learn more about this roar-some reptile, read on! If you enjoy these Liopleurodon facts, check out our Eromangasaurus and Trinacromerum fact pages for more amazing information!
No, the Liopleurodon was not a dinosaur, but rather a predatory reptile that dwelt among the ocean. It coexisted with dinosaurs and has a few dinosaur-like attributes; however, it is rather considered as a marine reptile.
Liopleurodon is pronounced as 'Lie-oh-ploor-oh-don.'
The Liopleurodon was a type of plesiosaur, a carnivorous marine reptile.
The Liopleurodon lived from the Callovian Stage of the Middle Jurassic to the Kimmeridgian stage of the Late Jurassic period, which occurred between 166-155 million years ago.
This pliosaurus reptile most likely became extinct at the end of the Kimmeridgian stage of the Late Jurassic period, around 155 million years ago.
The Liopleurodon lived in the Jurassic seas of what is now Europe, and its fossil remains have been found mainly around England and France.
These marine plesiosaur reptiles were found in the oceans surrounding Europe.
The Liopleurodon reptiles most likely lived in packs, which hunted and traveled together in groups under the sea.
Though the exact lifespan of this marine reptile cannot be determined, it has been estimated that they lived quite long lives, akin to those of similar reptiles like crocodiles and turtles. Due to their slow metabolisms, these beasts have been estimated to live between 80-300 years.
Liopleurodon reptiles were oviparous and reproduced by laying eggs. Their mating process was mostly similar to that of modern-day reptiles, with internal fertilization taking place inside the female's body.
The Liopleurodon had a long, slender body most likely covered with smooth slippery skin. It had four flippers which are used to thrust itself through the water, and a smooth tail which is used to propel itself forward. It had an elongated head with protruding 'smooth-sided teeth' (after which it is named) and a short, thick neck. It had forward-facing nostrils which are most probably used to smell and track its prey from long distances.
Though the Liopleurodon was not a dinosaur, due to its dinosaur-like attributes, we can assume that it had a similar number of bones in its body, the average being around 200.
The Liopleurodon probably used its flippers to send waves through the water to other members of its species, as well as used body language to convey intentions to each other. It had a very strong sense of smell, which it used to track down its prey through long distances in the water.
The average Liopleurodon size was estimated to measure between 16.4-23 ft (5-7 m), with the largest known specimen being around 33 ft (10.1 m). It was still a little smaller than a Megalodon but had a bite force twice that of Megalodon.
The Liopleurodon could swim at an average speed of 6.21 mph (10 kph).
The bodyweight of the Liopleurodon has been estimated to be around 2,204.6-3,747.9 lb (1000-1700 kg).
There are no specific names for the males and females of this species.
They were simply called baby Liopleurodons.
Being carnivorous in nature, these marine reptiles most likely hunted down and ate smaller mammals, other marine creatures, eggs, and fish.
Being the apex predator of Europe during the Middle Jurassic period, it is assumed that these marine reptiles were quite aggressive in nature. They would have had to hunt and chase their prey down, which would have involved baring their sharp teeth and swimming pretty fast. They also had to stay on their guard and be aggressive towards any probable intruders on their territory.
Like whales, these marine reptiles could not breathe underwater and had to come up for air! They could only stay underwater for short amounts of time before surfacing for breath.
These pliosaurs had forward-facing nostrils, which provided them with a keen sense of underwater smell.
It was named after their three teeth, each 3 in (7.6 cm) long, all discovered in France in 1873.
Though the body of the Liopleurodon was not as streamlined as other pliosaurs and was thick and stumpy, it was unusually fast, with its strong flippers helping it to propel itself through the water at extremely high speeds.
Europe used to be a collection of islands surrounded by shallow water in ancient times, which is how the remains of these reptiles managed to wash up in England and France. As the continents shifted and rearranged, the shallow water retreated, leaving behind the fossil remains of these pliosaurs to be found on dry land.
No, with the onset of the Cretaceous period came a more vicious, deadly marine predator known as the Mosasaur, which preyed on the Liopleurodons and drove them to extinction. This took place 150 million years ago, and there has been no trace of the Liopleurodon still swimming in the earth's waters since.
The jaws of these pliosaurs have been estimated to have a bite force of around 33000 psi (pound force per squares inch), which is thought to be the greatest bite force of any animal to have existed on this earth! There is definitely a reason why these marine reptiles were once the apex predators of the earth's waters.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Thecodontosaurus fun facts or Wuerhosaurus facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Liopleurodon coloring pages.
Main image by Nobu Tamura.
Second image by DiBgd.