Named By: Robert T. Bakker - 1993.
Synonyms: Plesiosaurus conybeari.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Sauropterygia, Plesiosauria, Plesiosauroidea, Plesiosauridae.
Species: A. conybeari (type).
Size: 5 meters long.
Known locations: England, Dorset.
Time period: Early Jurassic.
Fossil representation: Single specimen of partial remains now only represented by a plaster cast of the original fossils. Skin impressions were also known with the original material.
discovery of Attenborosaurus was unorthodox to say
the least. When
first discovered the remains were referred to the Plesiosaurus
a new species, P. conybeari. These remains
were destroyed during
a bombing raid in World War II, but a plaster cast of them was made
before this happened which has meant all but the original skin
impressions can still be studied. This plaster cast was enough to
bring the realisation that while similar to Plesiosaurus,
are different enough to warrant the creation of a new genus;
As you may have already gathered from its association with Plesiosaurus, Attenborosaurus had the small head, long neck, round body with four flippers that are associated with all plesiosaurs. As Attenborosaurus approached shoals of fish it could use its long neck to reach in and snap up a fish, the sharp teeth in the mouth granting Attenborosaurus a secure grip upon its prey. The skin impressions with the original fossils are noted as being a smooth membrane that was devoid of any noticeably large scales. This smooth skin probably helped to streamline Attenborosaurus as it swam through the water by reducing drag from water resistance.
Attenborosaurus is named after the Sir David Attenborough, who is perhaps best known for narrating a huge amount of BBC nature documentaries. The species name is derived from the original Plesiosaurus conybeari, which itself was named after William Conybeare who was one of two people who named the Plesiosaurus genus back in 1821.
- On a new species of Plesiosaurus (P. Conybeari) from the Lower Lias of Charmouth; with observations on P megacephalus, Stutchbury, and P. brachycephalus, Owen. - W. J. Sollas - 1881.