Claudiosaurus (Greek for "Claude's lizard"); pronounced CLAW-dee-oh-SORE-us
Shores of Madagascar
Late Permian (250 million years ago)
Size and Weight:
About 2 feet long and 5-10 pounds
Long neck and tail; splayed legs
Like a related marine reptile of the Permian period, Pachypleurosaurus, Claudiosaurus has proven difficult to classify; it may have been ancestral to the nothosaurs, which were themselves ancestral to the plesiosaurs and pliosaurs of the later Mesozoic Era. This ancient reptile is most often compared to the modern Marine Iguana; to judge by Claudiosaurus' unusually cartilaginous skeleton and underdeveloped sternum, it wouldn't have been able to support its weight well on land, and probably warmed itself up on the beaches of its island habitat before venturing clumsily into the water in search of food.