dcsimg

Brief Summary

    Brief Summary
    provided by EOL authors

    Kronosaurus is an extinct genus of marine reptile. The genus name literally translates to "lizard of Kronos" and hints to its large size, as it was named after one of the Greek Titans. Kronosaurus is a short-necked pliosaur, a unique lineage of predatory marine reptiles. It is an enormous creature and one of the largest pliosaurs, at 9-10 meters (30-33 feet) in total length. It lived in the Early Cretaceous Period (Aptian-Albian, ~100.5 ma - 125.0 ma) (Hampe, 1992; Kear, 2003).

Morphology

    Morphology
    provided by EOL authors

    Kronosaurus is a large marine reptile that reached a total length of 9–10 meters (30–33 feet). It possessed the typical elongated head and short neck that unites pliosaurs. It propelled itself and maneuvered through the water with four paddle-like flippers, and a relatively short tail. Like other pliosaurs, the back flippers were larger than the front flippers. Kronosaurus has long, conical teeth that aid in their carnivorous habits (Kear, 2003; Zammit & Kear, 2011).

    The genus Kronosaurus, like all within the group of animals that composes the lineage of plesiosaurs and pliosaurs, had highly modified pectoral and pelvic girdles (shoulder and hip regions) that supported a powerful musculature used to produce an equally powerful swimming stroke. Found along the underside of the torso between the pectoral and pelvic girdles, were a row of gastralia, or belly ribs. These provided the much needed structural support to make this form of flipper based propulsion efficient. These features made Kronosaurus an active swimmer and efficient predator (Smith, 2011).

    Kronosaurus teeth are extremely large and can reach over 25 cm in length, with the largest recorded at 30 cm long with 12 cm crowns (part above the gums excluding the root). Kronosaurus teeth are distinct from other pliosaurs because of their conical shape and lack of cutting edges (Zammit & Kear, 2011).

General Ecology

    General Ecology
    provided by EOL authors

    Kronosaurus is known from fossil finds found in both Australia and Colombia, South America. Both areas were covered by shallow inland seas when Kronosaurus inhabited them (Longman, 1924; Hampe, 1992; Kear, 2003).

    Fossil stomach contents and other evidence show that Kronosaurus preyed upon turtles, ichthyosaurs, elasmosaurs and plesiosaurs. Interestingly, many fossil remains of giant squid have been found in the same fossil deposits as Kronosaurus leading some to think that Kronosaurus may have fed upon them, but no direct evidence for this exists (Thulborn & Turner, 1993; Kear, 2003; Zammit & Kear, 2011).

Other Articles

    Untitled
    provided by EOL authors

    Andrew Crombie, in the year 1899, discovered a fragment of fossilized bone that held several large, conical teeth and donated the specimen to the Queensland Museum. In 1924, the director of the museum, Heber Longman, published the scientific description of the specimen and named it the holotype of a new species: Kronosaurus queenslandicus (Longman, 1924). A few years after its publication more substantial Kronosaurus material was found in the same location as the original 1899 find (Meyers, 20055).

    In 1932, researchers from Harvard University were in Australia on an expedition and came across the most complete skeleton of Kronosaurus ever discovered. The skull, from that skeleton, happened to match the holotype jaw fragment of K. queenslandicus and the complete skeleton was mounted and put on display at Harvard University in 1959 (Meyers, 2005).

    It wasn't until 1977 that Kronosaurus remains were found outside of Australia, when a Colombian farmer turned up an enormous fossil while tilling his field. Paleontologists and nearby people became involved and began excavation that revealed a nearly complete Kronosaurus skeleton. Oliver Hampe formally described the specimen in 1992 and decided that it was a second species within the genus, naming it K. boyacensis (Hampe, 1992; Meyers, 2005).

    The local people built a museum on the same spot from where the skeleton was originally excavated and the specimen remains on display in that location (Meyers, 2005).