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Cretaceous Kelp Forests (Was Re: Protoavis - etc)
In a message dated 99-03-01 09:27:45 EST, JJackson writes:
<< Darren's talk on marine tetrapods revealed that walruses suck molluscs
and also threw some light on a long standing puzzle for me as to why the
apparently primitive looking mososaurs flourished in the late Cretaceous, as
the ichthyosaurs died out. Apparently the shallow weed-clogged lagoons
which became much more common at that time, suited the undulating and
somewhat amphibious mososaurs better.
"somewhat amphibious" ?! Mosasaurs were totally aquatic and a stranding
would be as lethal to them as it is to a whale. Perhaps it would take longer
to asphyxiate, but there would certainly be no hope of escape using paddles or
serpentine movements. The anatomical configuration is just not there.
But, more to the point, Jackson's post behooves me to ask a question here.
Is there any shred of evidence for this kelp forest model of Cretaceous seas?
I am working on a series of restorations of mosasaurs and their "friends". I
would like nothing better than to add the decorative element that this
vegetation adds. However, I see kelp as "cold-water current" form on the
Pacific coasts of the Americas. Is this the correct model for the Western
Interior Seaway? Or the Cretaceous Atlantic? I'm thinking here of Greg Paul's
classic and quite beautiful drawing of the Pierre Shale fauna in Steven
Stanley's _Earth and Life Through Time_ and some of Doug Henderson's
In addition, I'm sure that certain mosasaurs were as well adapted to pelagic
realms as some were to weed-choked lagoons. Surely, the immense tylosaurines
and later mosasaurines were creatures of the open seas as well. Dan Varner.