Tany swimming SM
Vital statistics
Attributes Very long neck; smal head; striped tail; tail can fall off, grow back
Diet Other animals
Fossil finds
Temporal fossil range
Other names None
Production information
Notable individuals
TV appearances
Tanystropheus image gallery.
The wiki has a collection of images and media related to Tanystropheus.
Tanystropheus was a marine species of odd reptile, with a bizarrely long neck. It lived in the Triassic.

Tanystropheus lived in shallow waters but came ashore too. On land, Tanystropheus ate insects and small reptiles. In the water, it would gobble up fish and ammonites.

Tanystropheus was not a fast swimmer so often walked along the seabed and used its long neck to get within range of prey without being noticed. Like some lizards alive today, its tail could detach if seized by a predator, to allow an escape. It would then regrow.

Evidence & AttributesEdit

Why did Tanystropheus have such a cartoonishly long neck? This is still a matter of some debate, but most paleontologists think this reptile perched alongside Triassic riverbeds and shorelines and used its narrow neck as a kind of fishing line. However, it's also possible that Tanystropheus led a primarily terrestrial existence, and fed on smaller lizards perched high up in trees.


Three quarters of Tanystropheus' body length was its neck and tail. If its neck had been any longer its head might have snapped off.

Tanystropheus is one of those marine reptiles (technically an archosaur) that looked like it came straight out of a cartoon: its body was relatively unremarkable and lizard-like, but its long, narrow neck extended out for a disproportionate length of 10 feet. Even stranger (from a paleontological perspective), the exaggerated neck of Tanystropheus was supported by only 10 extremely elongated vertebrae, whereas the long necks of the much longer sauropod dinosaurs of the later Jurassic period were assembled from a correspondingly large number of vertebrae.

In Sea MonstersEdit

Sixth Most Deadly SeaEdit

Nigel grasping the tail

Nigel grappling the tail.

Nigel Marven follows a female Tanystropheus, and attempts to get a closer look at her by grabbing onto her tail, impeding her movement. The Tanystropheus struggles with all of her might, but Nigel still had a grip on her tail. Nigel does not let go of the animals's tail, so  the Tanystropheus loses, 'sheds' the tail, similar to some modern day geckos.

Nigel can hold onto the tail, but only with difficulty, because it is thrashing around (intended as a predator deterrent). Suddenly, the tail is snatched up and then eaten by a Cymbospondylus.