Other Extinct Orders Of Mesozoic-age Reptiles
Several other orders of large reptiles lived at the same time as the dinosaurs and are also now extinct. The pterosaurs (order Pterosauria) were large, flying reptiles that lived from the late Triassic to the late Cretaceous. Some species of pterosaurs had wingspans as great as 40 ft (12 m), much wider than any other flying animal has ever managed to achieve. Functional biologists studying the superficially awkward designs of these animals have long wondered how they flew. Some species of pterosaurs are thought to have fed on fish, which were scooped up as the pterosaur glided just above the water surface.
The ichthyosaurs (Ichthyosauria), plesiosaurs (Plesiosauria), and mosasaurs (Mososauria) were orders of carnivorous marine reptiles that became extinct in the Late Cretaceous. The ichthyosaurs were shark-like in form, except that their vertebral column extended into the lower part of their caudal (or tail) fin, rather than into the upper part like the sharks. Of course, ichthyosaurs also had well-developed, bony skeletons, whereas sharks have a skeleton composed entirely of cartilage rather than bone. The plesiosaurs were large animals reaching a length as great as 45 ft (14 m). These marine reptiles had paddle-shaped limbs, and some species had very long necks. Mosasaurs were large lizards that had fin-shaped limbs and looked something like a cross between a crocodile and an eel; but they grew to lengths of more than 30 ft (9 m).
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