The term Plesiosaur refers to several animals from different taxonomic rankings, however, the Elasmosaur is usually depicted as the "standard" Plesiosaur. Plesiosaurs were a group of aquatic carnivorous reptiles and it has been suggested that they could travel on to land. Plesiosaurs had large bodies, two pairs of flippers instead of feet, a short to medium length tail depending on the species, and long necks with a small head full of sharp, pointed teeth. Depending on the species, they could range from 15 to 70 feet long. Plesiosaurs were most likely predominately piscovorous, meaning that they mainly ate fish. However it is very possible that they would have eaten any available flesh based food source and may have occasionaly scavenged floating carcasses or caught animals near and on shore.
It is believed by some that Plesiosaurs could not have possibly lifted their neck and head above the surface of the water in the "swan like" fashion often portrayed in pictures and paintings because gravity would not allow it, however this is theory not fact, and without knowing the muscle structure of these animals it is a largely unfounded theory. In fact many thousands of eye witness reports describe Plesiosaur type animals doing just that, raising their heads up high to look around or even hunt. It seems that eye witness testimony of such an action would be the best evidence of whether or not they could lift their heads high above the waters surface. Some scientists believe one way of hunting implemented by these animals was to indeed hold their heads high out of the water to look into it for prey and plunge down onto them, this has actually been reported in one chilling encounter off the coast of Florida which is mentioned later.
*Woolungasaurus catching fish
There have been tens of thousands of reported sightings of creatures said to be or look like Plesiosaurs in the last few hundred years, including some strange reports of creatures coming onto land into peoples yards, stealing livestock to eat. Many reports have come from people at sea such as sailors. During the days of sailing ships between the 1500's and 1900 hundreds to thousands of reports of Long necked sea monsters were reported.
In 1734 Hans Egede reported seeing a lareg sea serpent off the western coast of Greenland:
[There] appeared a very terrible sea-animal, which raised itself so high above the water, that its head reached above our maintop. It had a long, sharp snout, and blew like a whale, had broad, large flippers, and the body was, as it were, covered with hard skin, and it was very wrinkled and uneven on its skin; moreover, on the lower part it was formed like a snake, and when it went under water again, it cast itself backwards, and in doing so, it raised its tail above the water, a whole ship length from its body. That evening, we had very bad weather.
In another telling of the encounter Hans said this:
"(We) saw a most terrible creature, resembling nothing they saw before. The monster lifted its head so high that it seemed to be higher than the crow's nest on the mainmast. The head was small and the body short and wrinkled. The unknown creature was using giant fins which propelled it through the water. Later the sailors saw its tail as well. The monster was longer than our whole ship"
The preceding account sounds remarkably similar to a Plesiosaur of some species from the description given, this description fits many reported sea monsters and sea serpents throughout the ages. It seems likely, given all the reports throughout history, that these animals have survived into recent and likely current times with humans.
There is even a confirmed account of a Plesiosaur killing several divers off the coast of Florida. This story has been confirmed by the one man that survived as well as the mother of one of the men young men that died. The one young man that survived drew a sketch of the animal that killed his friends. He now refuses to talk about the incident. The following picture was drawn by the man that survived, The full story of the event can be heard during the Kent Hovind video series on Living Dinosaurs in the Videos section of our website. It is a disturbing story.
Cryptoclidus is/was a medium sized plesiosaur that is dated by uniformitarian means to the middle Jurassic roughly 160-170million years ago. It was first discovered in fossil form in England by Phillips in 1871. Fossils remains are also known from northern France, Russia, and South America.
It's name means "hidden clavicles" which reference it's small, nearly hidden clavicles in it's front limb girdle.
At 26 feet in overalllength, Cryptoclidus was a large reptile, but only a medium sized Plesiosaur. It had a shorter neck and somewhat larger skull than many other species as well. It's neck is thought to have not been very flexible. This is in stark contrast to many early paleontological depictions of plesiosaurs bending their neck all around like a snake coils it's body.
It is thought that plesiosaurs, at least some species, could and did leave the water, at least at times. It is unknown if any slept on or hunted from beaches, if they came on land to sun bathe and thermoregulate, if some came on land to lay their eggs like sea turtles do, or any other reasons. It is not known if they did any of these since we cannot readily obseve them today. Though some eyewitness accounts in modern times do tell of such creatures being spotted on land in similar fashion.
Like all plesiosaurs, Cryptoclidus used it's four "flippers" to "fly" through the water at unknown speeds. Though they were likely quite graceful animals and I imagine beautiful to watch.
Based on their small, fragile teeth, it is believed that Cryptoclidus mostly ate small, soft bodied prey such as squid and small species of fish. However we simply don't know that much about Cryptoclidus.
Not much is known about Cryptoclidus currently, but one thing is for sure. Such a unique animal gives a powerful testament to our God: Our Creator and Sustainer and his judgement in the past known as The Great Deluge. Anytime we look at a fossil of these assumedly extinct marine reptiles we should remember that not only is God a grand designer, but also a loving and fair judge, who will come again soon.
Elasmosaurus is likely one of the species most often portrayed or thought of when plesiosaurs come up, and righlty so because it is indeed an impressive animal and likely the largest genus or species of plesiosaur yet known.