Fun Pleurosaurus Facts For Kids

Ritwik Bhuyan
Nov 29, 2022 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Sep 25, 2021
Edited by Kidadl Team
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
An interesting Pleurosaurus fact is that it is a marine species that lived in the late Jurassic period.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.2 Min

The Pleurosaurus is a genus of diapsid reptiles that have become extinct now. It belonged to the group Sphenodontia and the family Pleurosauridae. These aquatic reptiles in the family were probably seen in the Toarcian (early Jurassic) and Tithonian (late Jurassic) ages. This was a fully aquatic species and lived in a completely marine environment. The Pleurosaurus is an extinct related species of the modern-day tuatara. Fossils of these Pleurosaurus reptiles were discovered in the Solnhofen limestone formation of Bavaria, Germany, and Canjuers, France. There are two species known of the Pleurosaurus: Pleurosaurus goldfussi and P. ginsburgi. There is another member in the group called the Palaeopleurosaurus in the family Pleurosauridae; however, this species preferred both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

Pleurosaurus reptiles are the few known species of aquatic Sphenodontians. The fossil found in history tells us that the length of this species of Pleurosaurs was approximately 4.9 ft (1.4 m) long. To facilitate proper swimming, features like an elongated body, short limbs, and a powerful tail were all evolved in the Jurassic period species. The skull was triangular, differing from other Rhynchocephalians. Swimming was achieved by axial undulatory anguilliform locomotion which is poorly efficient. It just means that these Pleurosaurus reptiles were known for swimming with movement of the body from side to side. Pleurosaurs swam in shallow marine environments and probably fed mostly on fish. The description of the species can be summarized as having small limbs and nostrils at the most rear end of the head near the eyes.

Found in the famous Solnhofen limestone formation of Germany (where many other popular species of the Archaeopteryx or the Pterodactylus have been found), the Jurassic species is said to be related to lizards even though the habitat preference of the species was marine waters.

There is a lot we don't know about prehistoric creatures that lived in the world. The Jurassic period and subsequent timelines saw the emergence of many different reptiles that we don't see today. The Pleurosaurus goldfussi is one of them. For more relatable content, check out these Sarcosuchus facts and Mesosaurus fun facts for kids.

Pleurosaurus Interesting Facts

Was the Pleurosaurus a dinosaur?

It is regarded as a reptile and not a dinosaur. The species Pleurosaurus goldfussi is said to be related to the modern-day tuatara.

How do you pronounce 'Pleurosaurus'?

The name Pleurosaurus is pronounced as 'Ple-uro-saw-ras'.

What type of prehistoric reptile was a Pleurosaurus?

The Pleurosaurus is a genus of diapsid reptiles which belongs to the group Sphenodontia. The fossil proves the species to be a relative of the modern tuatara. The genus consists of marine species, although history puts other members of the group as semi-terrestrial animals.

In which geological period did the Pleurosaurus live?

Fossils of the Pleurosaurus goldfussi were first found in Bavaria, Germany. Fossils date back to the late Jurassic period.

The genus has evolved from terrestrial forms in the early Jurassic age. By the end of the age, the species evolved to a serpentine form similar to marine amphibians and especially reptiles.

When did the Pleurosaurus become extinct?

The species is known to have gone extinct around 150 million years ago. Fossils found of the genus in the Solnhofen limestone formation of Germany are enough to place them in the late Jurassic period. These Pleurosaurs were a group of mainly European, Jurassic to early Cretaceous Sphenodontids.

Where did the Pleurosaurus live?

The Pleurosaurus goldfussi and the Pleurosaurus ginsburgi were known to live in Europe. Fossils have been found in the Solnhofen limestone formation of Bavaria, Germany, and Canjuers, France. Many well-known fossil systems have been found in the Solnhofen limestone formation of Germany. The fossil of the Archaeopteryx (one of the most famous) or the Pterodactylus fossil have both been recovered from the Solnhofen limestone formation.

The Solnhofen limestone formation is a famous upper Jurassic period Lagerstätte in Germany.

What was a Pleurosaurus' habitat?

The Pleurosaurus goldfussi and the P. ginsburgi were completely marine species and bodies of these species were made in such a way to facilitate swimming. They probably lived in shallow waters where fish was abundant. The Pleurosaurus size had also evolved for swimming.

Who did the Pleurosaurus live with?

We don't know the company these reptiles used to keep. They probably lived in pairs or maybe in small groups to swim away together from predators which would have also helped in hunting for fish.

How long did a Pleurosaurus live?

The lifespan of the species is not known. The Pleurosaurus skeleton alone is not enough to know the age of the species.

How did they reproduce?

We have no content to determine the reproduction activities of the species. Like most reptiles, they too probably laid eggs to reproduces. The number of eggs is, however, not known.

There is some research saying the species gave birth to live young, so the proper reproduction data cannot be ascertained.

Pleurosaurus Fun Facts

What did a Pleurosaurus look like?

Both the Pleurosaurus goldfussi and the Pleurosaurus ginsburgi are differentiated by skull proportions, many numbers of presacral vertebrae, and much shorter forelimbs on the ginsburgi specimen. The reptile had a snake-like elongated body with a long and cylindrical torso. These features helped in long, shallow undulation. It had a much longer, flattened tail having a long fin similar to a sea snake. It had smaller limbs, unlike the well-developed legs and claws of the tuatara. The femur was somewhat large. The shoulder girdle and the pelvis was not well-developed. Fingers probably formed flippers and there were no claws.

The tuatara had a blunt and short snout; however, the Pleurosaurus had long and narrow jaws. Teeth were fused to jaw bones similar to other Sphenodonts; however, teeth were larger and were sized evenly. There was a hook at the end of the jaw but it was quite smaller than what we see in the tuatara. The Pleurosaurus from Germany probably was shaped like a modern-day monitor. All these features hint at these reptiles being fish-eaters. Forelimbs were shorter than hindlimbs similar to Mesozoic marine crocodylomorphs like the Metriorhynchus.

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

How many bones did a Pleurosaurus have?

The number of bones is not known even though fossils of the species have been retrieved.

How did they communicate?

The mode of communication of this aquatic species is not known. They probably communicated by signals and sound. However, they may have also communicated by body movements and stances.

How big was the Pleurosaurus?

The estimated length of the Pleurosaurus species is thought to be approximately around 4.9 ft (1.4 m). It had an elongated snake-like body. You can compare it to eels without limbs. The relative of the species named the tuatara living in the present time has a length of around 19.68 in (50 cm).

How fast could an Pleurosaurus move?

Although it might not have been too quick, it probably could travel long distances at a time. With its long body, it wasn't as speedy as other marine Sauropsids such as Ichthyosaurs.

How much did the Pleurosaurus weigh?

The weight of this species is not known.

The tuatara (New Zealand's largest reptile) as we have earlier discussed is a member of the incredibly ancient order that dates to the Mesozoic period. It has a weight of 3.3 lb (1.4 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

We have no content stating male and female names of the Pleurosaurus. They were called by the common genus name itself irrespective of sex.

What would you call a baby Pleurosaurus?

This information is not known.

What did they eat?

They were known and adapted to eat fish in the open sea.

How aggressive were they?

They were probably not very aggressive; however, this information is not available to discuss.

Did you know...

The Solnhofen limestone formation of Germany has fine-grained limestones which make excellent building materials. This has led to many quarrying activities in the region resulting in many discoveries of fossils. Some magnificent discoveries unearthed include the fossil of dragonflies, fish, pterosaurs, shrimp, and horseshoe crabs.

Why is it called the Pleurosaurus?

No information could be found on this topic.

Who discovered the Pleurosaurus?

The species was first described by Christian Erich Hermann von Meyer in 1834 with the help of a P. goldfussi fossil. Fossils have also been reported from lithographic limestones in a quarry near the village of Aiguines in the Canjuers plateau of France in 1970. P. ginsburgi was described in 1974 from fossils found in the Aiguines quarry.

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 Nothosaurus interesting facts, or Mesosaurus facts for kids.

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

*We've been unable to source an image of the Pleurosaurus and have used a sketch of a herbivorous dinosaur instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of a Pleurosaurus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

Pleurosaurus Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Fish and insects

what Type of Animal were they?

Mainly piscivores

Average Litter Size?


What Did They Look Like?

Elongated body with short limbs and a long tail

How Much Did They Weigh?


Skin Type

Slimy skin

How Long Were They?

Estimated to be approximately around 4.9 ft (1.4 m) long

How Tall Were They?










Scientific Name

Pleurosaurus goldfussi P. ginsburgi

What Were Their Main Threats?

Natural disasters and predators

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Aquatic habitats

Where Did They Live?

Solnhofen limestone formation of Bavaria, Germany, France
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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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