(More flat wrist).
Named By: Louis Dollo - 1882.
Synonyms: Halisaurus fraternus, Mosasaurus depressus, Oterognathus, Phosphorosaurus.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Squamata, Mosasauridae, Plioplatecarpinae.
Species: P. ortliebi (type), P. depressus, P. primaevus.
Size: Estimated around 5.5 meters long.
Known locations: Across Europe and North America.
Time period: Campanian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Several individual specimens.
sheer expanse of Plioplatecarpus remains in both
Europe and North
America indicate that this mosasaur was a predator that frequented the
open ocean, and was not restricted to just hunting in shallow waters
like some smaller mosasaurs have been presumed to have been.
Additionally Plioplatecarpus had proportionately
larger eyes than
other mosasaurs which might hint at a deep water adaptation similar in
function to the earlier big eyed ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaurs like
The teeth of Plioplatecarpus also suggest an adaptation for smaller and possibly slippery prey since they are strongly recurved. This means that each tooth had a pronounced curve that saw the tip of the crown pointing backwards at an angle rather than straight up. Aside from just fish, open ocean and deep water prey animals would have been squid and ammonites, although the teeth seem more suited for work on softer bodied squid rather than shelled ammonites. The snout of Plioplatecarpus is proportionately shorter than other mosasaurs, and is likely an adaptation to increase the jaw opening and closing speeds. This idea is based upon the established principle that a smaller surface area (as in the shorter snout) would experience much less resistance as it moved through the water. Much more extreme shortening can be seen in other deep water marine reptiles such as the gigantic Shastasaurus.
The name Plioplatecarpus is derived from this mosasaurs similarity with the earlier named Platecarpus which led to the combination of the word 'plio’ (more) with Platecarpus. The meaning of Platecarpus is ‘flat wrist’ and is in reference to the flat structure of the bones in the front flippers.