Notosaurs (Nothosaurus) were the first of the large reptiles to go to sea. They began their journey at the beginning of the Triassic, about 230 million years ago, and completely died out by the end of this period, after 40 million years. Notosaurus inhabited mainly in Europe and Asia and did not exceed 3 meters in length (some individual individuals were larger).

Unlike later marine reptiles, especially ichthyosaurs (which are considered descendants of notosaurs), notosaurs still maintained a connection with land. They had no flippers, but webbed feet. Perhaps they liked to bask on the shore, as our seals do.

The body, neck and tail of the notosaurs were long and flexible, and in appearance these lizards resembled little modern iguanas. Like the iguanas, the muscular tail also helped notosaurs swim.

Notosaurs reached maturity at the age of three years and lived up to six years. Propagated on the shores and in coastal rock caves. Perhaps the females laid their eggs in coastal sand, like modern sea turtles.

Next, we consider in more detail several notable dinosaurs from the genus Notosaurus


Inhabited in Europe in the Middle Triassic 225 million years ago. In length reached 3-4 meters. Weighed about 80 kg.

Compared to the claws of other representatives of the notosaurus squad, all four legs of this dinosaur were long-toed. He probably swam like an eel, curving a long body in waves.

On the ground, the ceresiosaurus also moved serpentine, bending its body and helping itself with the limbs with which it moved, probably in a way similar to modern penguins. Its tail served as a rudder and allowed you to quickly change direction. At the same time, his hind legs served him as rudders and brakes.

Like other notosaurs, he grabbed slippery prey with his sharp teeth, such as, for example, fish and squid, and swallowed it whole.

His head was very tiny, the skull, being the shortest skull among all notosaurs, was about one tenth of the total length of the animal, while the neck was one quarter. The body and tail accounted for one third of the total length.

There were special glands in the nostrils of the ceresiosaurs that helped to remove excess salt from the airways that got there when moving in water. He got rid of salt, sneezing when swimming, which allowed him to maintain normal salt metabolism in the body.


Inhabited in Europe in the Middle Triassic 225 million years ago. It reached 60 cm in length. This is one of the smallest notosaurs; it was smaller than an otter in size. For the first time, his remains were discovered in Italy near Lake Como in 1830.

From the remains found in Spain, it can be determined that the fingers on his hind legs were not connected by a membrane. Such a structure is clearly more convenient for walking than for swimming. The neck was rather short compared to the necks of later notosaurs. Apparently, the lariosaurus mainly splashed in shallow water and walked along the shore.

The food could be served by small fish, crustaceans and worms that live in the intertidal zone, as well as reptile eggs. This way of life is now led by coastal monitors.

In the stomach of one of the lariosaurs, the remains of two small placodonts were found – extinct marine reptiles, which are believed to be the very first lizards who actively mastered life in water.


Inhabited in Europe in the Middle Triassic 225 million years ago. In length reached 3 meters. This is still a notosaurus, but with some signs of another group of marine reptiles – plesiosaurs, especially in the structure of the skull and spine, which was quite rigid. Therefore, the pistosaurus swam, mostly raking with flippers, like plesiosaurs, and not meandering like a snake, like notosaurs.

Some paleontologists consider the pistosaurus to be a transitional form from notosaurs to plesiosaurs, or at least the closest relative of the direct ancestors of plesiosaurs.


Inhabited in Europe, Asia and North America in the Early-Late Triassic 225 million years ago. In length reached 3 meters. The name of this reptile, extended to the whole suborder, means "false pangolin." Indeed, at one time they could not be attributed to any known group, although the relationship with the lizards was obvious.

The fossil remains of notosaurs are found from the Netherlands to China. They lived on Earth for more than 25 million years. The well-preserved fossils show that the notosaurs had webbed feet, comfortable both in water and on land; spiky teeth typical for all notosaurs, the upper with a closed mouth go between the lower.

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