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This is known because their fossils have been found in association with those of sea urchins, squids, and other marine animals. The most serious gap in the fossil record of Mesozoic aquatic reptiles occurs between the Upper Permian and Lower Triassic periods. That is where two major groups – the ichthyosaurs and the sauropterygians – evolved, along with other minor and disparate taxa including the thalattosaurs and askeptosaurs (Carroll 1997). The placodonts (Sect. 1), nothosaurs (Sect. 2), and plesiosaurs were all derived from sauropterygian ancestry.
They propelled themselves by oscillating the tail, while the fin-like limbs were used mainly for steering. The general shape of the body was within the optimal range to minimise drag and for efficient swimming. Probably the fastest marine reptiles capable of sustained swimming, they were predators that hunted fishes and other prey over large areas. Bauplan II contained the mosasaurs, thalattosaurs, marine crocodilians, pachypleurosaurs, and the remaining Triassic ichthyosaurs. These animals had narrow, elongated bodies and long, broad tails.
The first group (Bauplan I) consisted of post-Triassic and some Triassic ichthyosaurs (Chap. 5). n Fig. 17. The four body forms or Baupläne displayed by Mesozoic reptiles. (After Massare 1997) 26 Amphibious and Early Marine Mesozoic Reptiles These had deep, streamlined bodies, deepest in the pectoral region and tapering posteriorly to the caudal fin. They propelled themselves by oscillating the tail, while the fin-like limbs were used mainly for steering. The general shape of the body was within the optimal range to minimise drag and for efficient swimming.