Fun Mesosaurus Facts For Kids

Anamika Balouria
Oct 20, 2022 By Anamika Balouria
Originally Published on Sep 30, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Read these Mesosaurus facts to learn about these primitive reptiles from the Early Permian period.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.4 Min

The Mesosaurus was a small to medium-sized size aquatic lifestyle reptile animal that was supposed to be on Earth during the Early Permian period, 280 million years ago to 290 million years ago. From the history of fossils and their specimens, the evidence for their aquatic lifestyle and environment is being advanced by scientists.

Mesosaurus fossil distribution is evident in eastern South America, particularly in Brazil, Uruguay, and South Africa. In the Greek language, the meaning of the name Mesosaurus means 'middle lizard'.

If you join together the pictures of Mesosaurus and modern-day crocodiles, you will see evidence of similar characteristics such as webbed feet, long tails, and slender skulls. When looking at their head skull, back vertebrate, body movement, and teeth, they are also closely related to terrestrial animals (land-living animals) on the basis of some of these characteristics.

From specimen dating, evidence of different age theories has been recovered. The fossil consisted of all development-shaped skeletons from juvenile to adult Mesosaurus dinosaurs. The fossil remains of the backbone or vertebrate of the reptile were measured and a difference in the Mesosaurus size length was evident. They had both aquatic and terrestrial animal features.

If you enjoyed reading this article about these reptiles from the earliest Permian period, then do read some interesting fun facts about Azendohsaurus and Cymbosponylus.

Mesosaurus Interesting Facts

Was the Mesosaurus a dinosaur?

The Mesosaurus was an aquatic and terrestrial animal similar to the modern-day crocodile. The evolution theory of this marine species is really interesting and they are considered to be the most primitive species of animals, mammals, and dinosaurs. They were classified as dinosaurs.

How do you pronounce 'Mesosaurus'?

Mesosaurs pronunciation is 'Mes-oh-sore-us'. 

What type of prehistoric reptile was a Mesosaurus?

The Mesosaurus was a small to medium-sized reptile animal considered to be too primitive among all the types. They were classified in the class Reptilia, the clade Parareptilia, and the order Mesosauria.

They belong to the family of Mesosauridae. The type species of the genus was Mesosaurus tenuidens.

They were discovered and named by Louis Paul Gervais in 1864. The Mesosaurus was one of the reptiles with webbed feet, a long tail, and bone fossils that are similar to marine and terrestrial land animals.

The teeth of these Mesosaurus tenuidens were of a comb-like structure. To support the theory of continental drift, specimens of these reptile animals were taken as their fossils were recovered from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, both eastern South America and South Africa.

In which geological period did the Mesosaurus live?

The Mesosaurus roamed around the Earth during the Early Permian period, 280 million years ago to 290 million years ago. The Mesosaurus was one of the first marine or aquatic animals to have a different aquatic adaptation lifestyle.

When did the Mesosaurus become extinct?

The Mesosaurus might have gone extinct by the end of the Early Permian period. As their fossils were discovered on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the species must have become extinct due to continental drift

Where did the Mesosaurus live?

The Mesosaurus, one of the first reptile animals to have both characteristics of terrestrial and aquatic lifestyle, fossils were found in eastern South America, mainly Brazil and Uruguay. The fossils were also found in the southernmost part of South Africa. 

What was a Mesosaurus' habitat?

The Mesosaurus was an aquatic, as well as, a terrestrial land animal. With these features, these animals were acquainted with living in the swampy areas of freshwater rivers and lakes. As they were freshwater animals, they would not have been able to swim across the salty water of the Atlantic Ocean and were separated by continental drift. 

Who did the Mesosaurus live with?

It is unknown whether these reptile animals lived in groups or solitude. With the evolution theory, along with their movement, they must have lived their lives in a small group or pack, which could have consisted of a juvenile, female, and adult male. However, there is no strong evidence to support this theory.

How long did a Mesosaurus live?

The exact age of the Mesosaurus is unknown, but they were found in the Early Permian period between 280 million years ago and 290 million years ago.

How did they reproduce?

The Mesosaurus (meaning 'middle lizard') reproduced by mating and laying eggs. The fossils of pregnant females have also been found in the formations. The amniotes' embryos were found from the fossils of these early reptiles.

Mesosaurus Fun Facts

What did a Mesosaurus look like?

The Mesosaurus looked like a modern-day crocodile with a long tail, comb-like structure, teeth, and webbed feet. They had slender and narrow heads with thick bones.

The teeth were very fine and thin to prey easily on their food. The skull formation of this reptile species was such that it gave scientists an idea that they were both marine, as well as, land animals.

The long tail equal to their body size was like a fin to them, similar to earlier tetrapod aquatic animals. They had many openings on the sides of their skulls.

The Mesosaurus had webbed feet and a long tail like a crocodile.

How many bones did a Mesosaurus have?

The exact number of bones in the middle lizard is not evaluated and is unknown to the world. The postcranial skeleton was discovered in the Gondwanan of the Permian period.

How did they communicate?

There is not much data available about how they communicated. However certain assumptions can be made, such as they must have communicated by using tactile cues and certain sound waves when they were underwater. Their life and behavior was similar to crocodiles of today's world. 

How big were the Mesosaurus?

The Mesosaurus was 3 ft (1 m) long in length and they had a very long tail.

How fast could a Mesosaurus move?

There are not many specific resources or data available about their locomotion and movement. They swam using their webbed feet like flippers. Their flippers would have helped them to swim very fast and with quick movements.

How much did Mesosaurus weigh?

The Mesosaurus has gone through great evolution and development due to continental drift. The Mesosaurus weighed around 10-20 lb (4.5-9 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

There was no specific name given to the male and female dinosaurs of this species and they are known by their general or common names.

What would you call a baby Mesosaurus?

The babies of Mesosaurus dinosaurs can be called hatchlings or juveniles.

What did they eat?

From the latest resources and data, it is known that the dinosaurs of this reptile species were carnivores and their diet consisted of planktons and small aquatic crustaceous like shrimps, snails, and worms. They also fed on small fish.

How aggressive were they?

They must have been aggressive with regard to their territory and food. They might have been in competition with the Brazilosaurus and Stereosternum. There is not much data available about their their behavior.

Did you know...

The Brazilosaurus was a mesosaur that lived in the same period as the Mesosaurus, i.e., the Early Permian period in Brazil, South America. Their fossils have been recovered from the Irati Formation in the Parana Basin. This species was named by T. Shikama and H. Ozaki in 1966. The type species of the genus was Brazilosaurus sanpauloensis.

Why is it called Mesosaurus?

The Mesosaurus was named by Louis Paul Gervais in 1864. The meaning of the name Mesosaurus is 'middle lizard', which means that they are a prehistoric crocodile species living both on land and water. The body was like a reptile lizard or crocodile.

How does the Mesosaurus support continental drift?

The Mesosaurus's wide geographical location and distribution has recently gained the attention of scientists. Mesosaurus facts include that they belonged to the Early Permian period, the time period before continental drift.

They lived in eastern South America and the southernmost parts of South Africa, giving clues that they must have been separated due to continental drift happening in the Atlantic Ocean. They were considered to be freshwater species, so the theory of them swimming across the Atlantic Ocean is not at all supported.

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 Longisquama interesting facts, or Sarcosuchus facts for kids.

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

Second image by Ghedoghedo

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Written by Anamika Balouria

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

Anamika Balouria picture

Anamika BalouriaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in Secondary Education and Teaching, Master of Arts specializing in English

A dedicated and enthusiastic learner, Anamika is committed to the growth and development of her team and organization. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in English from Daulat Ram University and Indira Gandhi Institute for Open Learning respectively, as well as a Bachelor of Education from Amity University, Noida. Anamika is a skilled writer and editor with a passion for continual learning and development.
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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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