EARLY JURASSIC TO CRETACEOUS PERIOD: 220 million - 65 million years ago
Zarafasaura was first named by Peggy Vincent, Nathalie Bardet, Xabier Pereda Suberbiola, Baâdi Bouya, Mbarek Amaghzaz and Saïd Meslouh in 2011 and the type species is Zarafasaura oceanis.
The generic name is derived from zarafa (ÒÑÇÝÉ), Arabic for "giraffe" (it refers to the name given by the local population to the plesiosaurs found in the phosphates) and saurus, Greek for "lizard". The specific name is derived from oceanis, Latin for "daughter of the sea".
Plesiosaurs were magnificent ocean-dwelling reptiles that "flew" gracefully through the water with massive paddles.
Plesiosaurs first emerged in the Early Jurassic Period. They were among the chief predators of the ancient seas, attacking large sharks, ichthyosaurs and even their relatives, plesiosaurs. The order Plesiosauria are a large and varied group which have been broadly divided into two superfamilies based on their overall body structure. The long-necked, small-headed PLESIOSAURS make up one superfamily named Plesiosauroidea and the short-necked, large-headed PLIOSAURS comprise the other superfamily named Pliosauroidea.
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