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MEGA-ORCAS, WHO'S THE BIGGEST?



Sorry to list this one, Colin, but I thought others might be interested.
Regarding _Kronosaurus_ as the biggest of pliosaurs, I thought that
_Stretosaurus macro???_ won the title. I have a published estimate (somewhere)
of 15 m + (I'm avoiding imperial nowadays, good move eh Jenny?) for this
beastie.

I'm not sure when _Stretosaurus_ was alive, but I think that it was late in the
Jurassic. Impressive though it must have been, prob is it's only know from a
lower jaw, an arm and possibly a few other elements. It would be interesting to
know if _Stretosaurus_ has been compared to what is known of _Leiopleurodon_.
Could they be congeneric? _Stretosaurus_ fossils are on display at the
Dorchester Museum (*NOT* the Dorchester Dinosaur Museum, which is a feeble
collection of paper mach`e tyrannosaurs and some pet hamsters), and they are
big! 

On display at the BMNH is a giant short-necked plesiosaur called
_Rhomaleosaurus_. It is mounted belly-to-the-wall, so you're looking at it from
above. It's very impressive, in its size and degree of completeness. While it
is about as big as the big pliosaurs, it presumably fed on different things.
Less of a marine mega-predator, I suppose. It was the plesiosaur that showed
that they used smell to hunt, I think.

Giant pliosaurs must have been awesome predators, kind of like mega-orcas but
meaner and with more teeth. They could have eaten ANYTHING. Various modern land
animals end up swimming at sea for various reasons, to island-hop for example
(asian elephants are a great example), and doubtless dinosaurs did too.
Therefore they might have been unfortunate enough to have ended up in the belly
of a giant pliosaur, as some do in William Stout's 'Dinosaurs' book. Pliosaurs
are known to have eaten dinosaurs, but these seem to have been carcasses that
got washed out to sea. Dinosaurs that went paddling in late Cretaceous waters
of Queensland weren't wise ones (but then they didn't have e-mail did they?).

I understand that stomach stones have been found in certain pliosaurs (they used
them as ballast, sealions do too). Does _Kronosaurus_ reveal anything in this
regard? Well I think that's everything. 

"We patronize them for our incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken
form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, we greatly err. For the animal
shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they
move finished and complete, gifted with senses we have lost or never attained,
living by voices we shall never hear. They are not BRETHREN, they are not
UNDERLINGS, they are OTHER NATIONS, caught with ourselves in the net of life and
time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth." - Henry
Beston, 1928.

Now THAT'S a quote!

DARREN NAISH