April 29, 2011

Gondwane: Aquatic Reptiles

Another thing I found out in my Jurassic era researches was the variety of large aquatic reptiles living then.  Taking a boat or swimming in Gondwane may lead to a run-in with one of these:

The Shoal Lurker is a teleidosaur, a kind of crocodilian that has taken completely to the water.  With its paddle-like feet and shark-like tail, it’s sure to be a fast swimmer. However, they’re not armored like the crocodiles we know today.

The Shoal Terror is a dakosaurus, another totally aquatic crocodilian.  Whereas the Shoal Lurker feeds mostly on fish and may only occasionally harm man, the Shoal Terror is an apex predator that can and will attack anything near its size or less.

Long-Neck to the Gondwaneans of course refers to plesiosaurs, which however are generally harmless to man; their heads and jaws are too small for man-size prey.  The only time Gondwaneans fear the Long-Neck’s bite is when hunting them with harpoons, or when they intrude on their mating lagoons.

What the Gondwaneans truly fear are the Longjaws, the big ferocious pliosaurs like the Liopleuredon illustrated above. These creatures can and do hunt larger prey, and will not hesitate to attack a human being in the water.

The Stonebiter is a living fossil in Gondwane, inhabiting only a few lakes and inland seas.  With its incredibly powerful bite, it can feed on anything it can seize with its jaws – and at 20-30’ long, that includes humans and many of the smaller dinosaurs.

The Stonebiter is of course based on the Dunkleostus, a fish that scared the bejabbers out of me when as a five- or six-year old kid I first saw an illo of it in my How And Why Wonder Books.  It’s really from the Devonian period, but it’s pretty easy to posit enclaves holding out in some places.

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