Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Order Nothosauroidea
Suborder Nothosauria
Family Nothosauridae
Subfamily Nothosaurinae
Genus Nothosaurus
1st Species Nothosaurus mirabilis
2nd Species Nothosaurus giganteus
3rd Species Nothosaurus marchicus
4th Species Nothosaurus tchernovi
Other attributes
Time Range 240-210 mya
Location Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Israel, China
Name Meaning False reptile
Physical Dimensions 3.2 meters long for N.mirabilis; 5.7 meters long for N.giganteus
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Nothosaurus is a nothosaurid nothosauroid reptile from the Middle-Late Triassic of Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Israel, and China. It was named in 1834 by Georg zu Munster. It was representative of one of the most dominant marine reptile orders of the Triassic, and was also relatively widespread.


Nothosaurus was a reptile with a slender body, short legs, a long tail, and a big head with a mouth filled with sharp, interlocking teeth. Like the plesiosaurs it was distantly related to, it also had a decently long neck. Its body would have been covered in scaly skin.


Nothosaurus was a predator, preying on fish, cephalopods, and baby marine reptiles. Its sharp teeth were used to get a hold of slippery fish, and its long neck would have helped it grab prey a meter away from its body and snake into large groups of fish.


Nothosaurus is often called "the seal of the Triassic" due to the fact that it was at home on both the rocky coasts and the deep oceans. When swimming, Nothosaurus would use a combination of moving its tail from left to right and pushing forward with its legs to propel itself through the water. As well as this, Nothosaurus would have jumped into the water only to look for aquatic prey, otherwise walking around and sunbathing on the coast. This lifestyle would save Nothosaurus from getting eaten by bigger aquatic predators such as Cymbospondylus; however, it wouldn't be completely safe, as giant predatory archosaurs such as Batrachotomus would probably have seldom walked onto the coast.

In popular cultureEdit

Nothosaurus was featured in the 1st episode of the 2003 documentary Chased by Sea Monsters, where it is featured as a mesopredator of the Triassic aquatic ecosystems, mainly overshadowed by Cymbospondylus. As well as this, even though it is mentioned to be a danger to Nigel Marven (the explorer of the prehistoric seas), it is shown as relatively harmless, even fleeing from him when he decided to clamp down on its jaws with his hands.

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