One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large extinct marine reptile of the Mesozoic era, with a broad flat body, large paddle-like limbs, and typically a long flexible neck and small head.
Infraorder Plesiosauria, superorder Sauropterygia: several families, including Plesiosauridae
- ‘Marine vertebrates included the large dolphin-like ichthyosaurs and the long-necked plesiosaurs, marine crocodiles, turtles, and other reptiles.’
- ‘The plesiosaur and sauropod dinosaurs had 30 to 50 neck bones!’
- ‘More distantly related to true dinosaurs were the marine plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs.’
- ‘These are sauropterygians, marine reptiles related to plesiosaurs, from the middle Triassic.’
- ‘While dinosaurs ruled the land, the ichthyosaurs, classified variously in the Ichthyosauria or in the Ichthyopterygia, shared the seas of the world with the other great groups of large marine reptiles, the plesiosaurs and mosasaurs.’
Mid 19th century: from modern Latin Plesiosaurus, from Greek plēsios ‘near’ + sauros ‘lizard’.
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