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Ancient Marine Reptile Growth Rates?
I have a question about the growth rates of marine reptiles. Now, I'm not
talking about itty bitty modern sea turtles... What I've always been curious
about are the estimates proposed for the bigger variety, like mosasaurs,
plesiosaurs, etc. I have a few papers and books on marine reps (extinct and
extant), but the subject of growth rates really aren't discussed (for the
living versions, the data available is meager at best). Has any real work ever
been done on the subject of ancient marine reptile growth rates? The largest
sea turtles alive today (leatherbacks) only reach about 2m and 1400lbs... with
30 years of their lives spent reaching maturity (other species can take 50
years!). For argument's sake, if you want to stick as close as you can to
Mesozoic ocean-like temps, in the southern Bahamas, for example, green turtles
only grow from 30 to 75 cm in 17 years, and there's indications that growth
rates decrease with increasing carapace length.
All of this begs the question... How long did it take for an elasmosaurus to
reach 14m with a weight of 2 tonnes? And for that matter, at what age did it
begin to breed?
Any thoughts on the subject would be most appreciated.