Giant Predators of an Ancient World

Ancestors of Snakes and Lizards from 50 million Years Ago

by Aubrianna Willard-Lee, Age 13

Two hundred fifty million years ago, four creatures resembling snakes and lizards roamed the earth: the Kuehneosaurus, the Megalania, the Pachyrhachis, and the Platecarpus.  

The Kuehneosaurus was a gliding diaspad — a creature with two openings in the skull behind each eye. The Kuehneosaurus could easily fly from tree to tree. It could also fly long distances, but rarely did. The Kuehneosaurus ate insects. It lived in Europe.

Although more robust and with a shorter tail, the Megalania looked much like a modern-day Komodo dragon. From head to tail, it was 26 feet long. Its teeth were more widely spaced and serrated compared to those of a Komodo dragon, and its claws were larger and more curved. The Megalania ate kangaroos. This animal lived in Australia.

The Pachyrhachis was a water snake. While its body was snake-like, its head was like a lizard’s. Upon reaching maturity, its total length was over three feet. Its body movement was like a snake and it ate soft-bodied creatures that lived in the sea. This creature lived in Asia and the Middle East.

The Platecarpus was also a sea creature. Its flat tail was as long as its body. Researchers believe the tail evolved this way to help the animal swim better.  Short legs and webbed feet helped it steer through the water. Its jaws were long and pointed, filled with sharp teeth. Like the Pachyrhachis, Platecarpus ate soft-bodied creatures that lived in the sea. The Platecarpus used to inhabit Europe and North America.

Although these four unique creatures lived millions of years ago, there is plenty of evidence that they did exist and about what they looked like. It is fascinating to study creatures that lived so long ago, and to realize how these findings help us understand animal evolution.

[Source: The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles]

Love it keep up the great work. – AlexciaMadison WI (2013-07-23 10:44)