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Posted by / 05-Jul-2019 17:21

It is the earliest discovered more or less complete fossil reptile skeleton in a museum collection.

It can perhaps be referred to Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus.

Other naturalists during the seventeenth century added plesiosaur remains to their collections, such as John Woodward; these were only much later understood to be of a plesiosaurian nature and are today partly preserved in the Sedgwick Museum.

In 1719, William Stukeley described a partial skeleton of a plesiosaur, which had been brought to his attention by the great-grandfather of Charles Darwin, Robert Darwin of Elston.

The specimen is today preserved in the Natural History Museum, its inventory number being BMNH R.1330.

In 1821, a partial skeleton discovered in the collection of Colonel Thomas James Birch, was described by William Conybeare and Henry Thomas De la Beche, and recognised as representing a distinctive group. The generic name was derived from the Greek πλήσιος, plèsios, "closer to" and the Latinised saurus, in the meaning of "saurian", to express that Plesiosaurus was in the Chain of Being more closely positioned to the Sauria, particularly the crocodile, than Ichthyosaurus, which had the form of a more lowly fish.

Soon afterwards, the morphology became much better known.

The term "plesiosaur" is properly used to refer to the Plesiosauria as a whole, but informally it is sometimes meant to indicate only the long-necked forms, the old Plesiosauroidea.

In 1605, Richard Verstegen of Antwerp illustrated in his A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence plesiosaur vertebrae that he referred to fishes and saw as proof that Great Britain was once connected to the European continent.

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