Fun Nothosaurus Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Nov 28, 2022 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Sep 16, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Explore more about this reptile by reading these Nothosaurus facts.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.9 Min

Nothosaurus is believed to have inhabited modern-day North Africa, China, and Europe based on the fossils discovered. It is classified as a sauropterygian and lived during the Triassic period, that is, around 240-210 million years ago. The exact habitat of these reptiles is not known, but it was considered to be a part of marine reptiles or semi-oceanic animals, and was a member of the marine reptile group, indicating that it might have inhabited marine types of habitats. Reproduction is thought to take place sexually, just like other Reptilia group members and there is a possibility that it gave birth to live young.

Its body was slender and it had webbed and long toes, which helped it in swimming, and there is a possibility that it had a fin on its tail (like other members of sauropterygia). The skull was flat and broad and the jaws were long that contained needle-like teeth. Its body structure was considered to be quite similar to many later plesiosaurs, but it is believed that it was not well-adapted to marine environments. Other nothosaurs were known to have a long neck, thus, it is predicted that this reptile also had a long neck. Being a marine reptile, it might have had a piscivore diet, that is, it fed on fish and other marine animals. It is believed by some researchers, that once caught by the jaws of this animal, it would have been difficult for the prey to free themselves from its mouth.

The first fossil was discovered in 1834 and was named N. mirabilis. There are around a dozen distinct species of Nothosaurus, such as Nothosaurus juvenilis, N. tchernovi, N. edingerae, N. haasi, N. jagisteus, N. youngi, N. zhangi, N.yangjuanensis, N. marchicus, and the most recent one is N. winkelhorsti. Some fossils of the various species might have also dated to the Middle Triassic. When roughly translated, the name is known to mean 'false lizard' and has been derived from Ancient Greek. It is considered a possibility that a Nothosaurus branch might have evolved into certain pliosaurs like Liopleurodon (a short-necked plesiosaur) and Cryptoclidus (long-necked plesiosaur). When some of the first dinosaurs started walking on land, the seas were inhabited by a family of animals known as nothosaurs.

If you enjoy this article, do check out other creatures such as Ornithosuchus and Longisquama, too.

Nothosaurus Interesting Facts

Was the Nothosaurus a dinosaur?

It is known to have been an aquatic reptile.

How do you pronounce 'Nothosaurus'?

The pronunciation of this reptile is 'No-tho-sore-us'.

What type of prehistoric reptile was a Nothosaurus?

It was considered to be a sauropterygian reptile genus.

In which geological period did the Nothosaurus live?

It is known to have lived in the Triassic period.

When did the Nothosaurus become Extinct?

The exact time period of extinction of this species is unknown.

Where did a Nothosaurus live?

The fossils that were discovered were known to have been spread around prsent-day North Africa, Europe, and China.

What was a Nothosaurus' habitat?

No information is available about the habitat of the Nothosaurus.

Who did a Nothosaurus live with?

It is not known if the Nothosaurus lived in groups or were solitary creatures.

How long did a Nothosaurus live?

The lifespan of this species is not known.

How did they reproduce?

Reproduction of this reptile species from the Triassic period is thought to be similar to other reptiles, that is, it took place sexually and it is possible that it used to give birth to live young.

Nothosaurus Fun Facts

What did a Nothosaurus look like?

The toes, tail, and jaws of this animal were some of its identifiable features.

Based on fossils and analysis of the Nothosaurus skeleton, it is believed that this Sauropterygia had webbed and long toes. It also might have had a fin on its tail and its body was slender. The legs, webbed feet, and tail were used to steer and propel in the water and also for swimming. The skull was known to be flat and broad and had long jaws with needle-like teeth. The body of this animal was quite similar to that of later plesiosaurs, but it is believed that it was not well adapted for the aquatic environment. Some of the nothosaurs had a long neck and a head that was elongated and flat.

How many bones did a Nothosaurus have?

The number of bones that this dinosaur from the Triassic period had is unknown.

How did they communicate?

Communication is believed to have taken place through sounds, gestures and postures, and maybe chemical cues sometimes.

How big was a Nothosaurus?

The estimated size of the Nothosaurus is around 13-23 ft (4-7 m).

How fast could a Nothosaurus move?

The speed of movement of this dinosaur is not known.

How much did a Nothosaurus weigh?

Their weight is evaluated to be around 176-331 lb (80-150 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

Males and females of this species did not have any sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby Nothosaurus?

There is no specific name for a baby Nothosaurus.

What did they eat?

It is believed that this species from the Triassic period used to feed on fish and crustaceans.

How aggressive were they?

It is not known if this reptile species was aggressive or not.

Did you know...

The genus name Nothosaurus has its roots in ancient Greek and is derived from two words 'nothos' meaning 'illegitimate' and 'saurus' meaning 'lizard'. It is roughly translated as a 'false lizard'.

It is considered to be the best member known of the Nothosaur order.

It is believed that it was a semi-oceanic animal species and might have had a similar lifestyle to that of modern seals.

It is believed that if animals were once caught by the Nothosaurus, it would have been difficult for them to free themselves from its mouth.

It is considered a possibility that a Nothosaurus branch might have evolved into certain pliosaurs like Liopleurodon (a short-necked plesiosaur) and Cryptoclidus (long-necked plesiosaur).

It has been recorded throughout history that there are almost a dozen species known of Nothosaurus and these include Nothosaurus mirabilis (named in 1834), which is from the Germanic Muschelkalk, N.giganteus (it was initially known as Paranothosaurus), it is from the Osnabruck, Germany. Other include N. juvenilis, N. tchernovi, N. edingerae, N. haasi, N. jagisteus, N. youngi, N. zhangi, N. yangjuanensis, N. marchicus, and the most recent one is N. winkelhorsti. Some of the fossils of these species might have also dated to the Middle Triassic.

Nothosaurus, just like other sauropterygians (marine reptiles), is known to have been evolved from some terrestrial reptiles that were distantly related to snakes and lizards.

Some researchers believed that the Nothosaurus could turn its head sideways in a similar manner to that of a crocodile that turns its head to prey on or grab on a fish as these reptiles too preyed on fish.

It is also believed by the researchers that Nothosaurus is considered to be one important discovery of marine reptiles.

It has been stated that when some of the first dinosaurs started walking on land, the seas were inhabited by the reptile family known as nothosaur.

When was the Nothosaurus discovered?

It is believed that the first Nothosaurus fossil was discovered in 1834.

How did the Nothosaurus become Extinct?

The exact reason is not known, but it is believed that a large-scale mass extinction in the Triassic-Jurassic period led to the extinction of this species.

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 Clidastes interesting facts, or Sarcosuchus facts for kids.

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

Second image by Elke Wetzig.

Nothosaurus Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Fish and crustaceans

what Type of Animal were they?

Carnivore

Average Litter Size?

N/A

What Did They Look Like?

N/A

How Much Did They Weigh?

176-331 lb (80-150 kg)

Skin Type

Dry scales

How Long Were They?

13-23 ft (4-7 m)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Reptilia

Genus

Nothosaurus

Family

Nothosauridae

Scientific Name

Nothosaurus mirabilis

What Were Their Main Threats?

N/A

What Habitat Did They Live In?

N/A

Where Did They Live?

North Africa, Europe, China
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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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