Simolestes

Name: Simolestes ‭(‬Hearkening thief‭)‬.
Phonetic: Si-mo-les-teez.
Named By: Andrews‭ ‬-‭ ‬1909.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Sauropterygia,‭ ‬Plesiosauria,‭ ‬Pliosauroidea,‭ ‬Pliosauridae.
Species: S.‭ ‬vorax‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬indicus,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬keileni.
Diet: Piscivore/Carnivore.
Size: Estimated at up to‭ ‬ 6to 10‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: England,‭ ‬France and India.
Time period: Bajocian through to the Tithonian of the Jurassic.
Fossil representation: Few specimens,‭ ‬best known from skulls.

       Despite its long history and broad geographic range,‭ ‬Simolestes surprisingly remains a little known pliosaur,‭ ‬certainly no way near as famous as the often over exaggerated Liopleurodon.‭ ‬Simolestes does not have the best fossil representation,‭ ‬but comparison to other pliosaurs has yielded estimates of around six to ten meters for the living animal.‭ ‬This would make Simolestes large for the Jurassic pliosaurs,‭ ‬with most larger forms like‭ ‬Kronosaurus being known from the Cretaceous‭ (‬that said the pliosaur dubbed‭ ‘‬Predator X‭’ now reclassified as Pliosaurus funkei ‭lived at the end of the Jurassic and was probably even bigger than Kronosaurus‭)‬.
       Simolestes is known to have enlarged teeth that grew towards the end of its jaws.‭ ‬In the first fossils these teeth point out to the sides,‭ ‬but this is generally considered to be a product of the fossilisation process‭ (‬remember that sedimentary rocks which fossils are known from are formed by intense weight and pressure of the above layers pushing down on the lower layers‭)‬.‭ ‬As such the teeth in the living Simolestes actually pointed up and down with some of the larger teeth actually pointing clear of the opposite jaw.‭ ‬This meant that all of the teeth intermeshed together when the jaws were closed which is seen as a specialisation for small and possibly slippery prey like fish and soft bodied cephalopods like squid.‭ ‬In fact the latter may have been the preferred prey type as squid hooklets‭ (‬small hooks on the tentacles of some squid that help them hold onto their prey‭) ‬have been found in association with Simolestes remains.

Further reading
- On some new Plesiosauria from the Oxford Clay of Peterborough - Annals And Magazine of Natural History 4:418-429 - C. W. Andrews - 1909.
- Simolestes keileni sp. nov., un Pliosaure (Plesiosauria, Reptilia) du Bajocien supérieur de Lorraine (France) - Bulletin des Académie et Société Lorraines des sciences 33(2):77-95 - P. Godefroit - 1994.
- A large Rhomaleosaurid Pliosaur from the Upper Lias of Rutland - Mercian Geologist 2000 15 (1) - Richard Forrest.




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