Paleontologists have solved the riddle of the ancient long-necked tanystropheans

Scientists from the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History conducted a computed tomography scan of the fossil remains of one of the mysterious creatures of antiquity - the tanystropheus. Until now (and almost 200 years have passed since its discovery), paleontologists could not even understand whether this animal was terrestrial, aquatic or flying. The reason for this was the mysterious extra-long neck with a tiny head that distinguished the representatives of this extinct species.

History knows many creatures with very long necks - for example, the modern giraffe, the ostrich, some species of turtles, or the extinct plesiosaurus and brontosaurus. But in all of them, the neck is attached to a powerful and heavy body. In tanystropheans, with a body length of 5-6 m, the length of the neck ranged from 3 m or more, and there were rather large bones in it. As a result, a weighty, clumsy neck was obtained with a small body and frail paws.

The version of the ability to fly was rejected when they realized that the long bones are part of the neck, and not the fragments of wings. Computed tomography made it possible to reconstruct the skull and it turned out that the creature's nostrils were located at the top of the head, like a crocodile. Therefore, with a high probability, the tanystropheus led a similar lifestyle - he sat at the bottom and put his nose out in order to grab and drown the prey that was swimming by.

Further research showed that the smaller skeletons with long necks did not belong to cubs, but to a separate species. Scientists have divided them into Tanystropheus longobardicus, and the larger Tanystropheus hydroides, and also determined that both are an evolutionary product of that era, the shallow coast of Tethys 240 million years ago. Small long-necks ate shrimp and insects, large ones - fish and squid, which allowed them to exist side by side without competition for food.