The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

University of Oklahoma at Norman

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Cretaceous Marine Reptiles Page

Copyright 2000-2008 by Mike Everhart

Created July 11, 2000; Last updated February 24, 2008

In July, 2000, we visited the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History on the University of Oklahoma campus at Norman, Oklahoma.  The museum had just opened (May 1, 2000) and there was still a lot of work going on completing the exhibits.  While primarily dealing with terrestrial vertebrates from the Triassic and Jurassic periods of the Mesozoic, and large mammals from the Cenozoic, they do have a very nice display of late Cretaceous fossils from the Western Interior Seaway. The museum also features dioramas with large murals by artist Karen Carr (you can see more of her work, including portions of the murals at the Karen Carr Natural History and Wildlife page). 

kcarr01a.jpg (4727 bytes) This webpage features pictures of the marine fossils at the museum, a picture of Karen Carr's Cretaceous marine mural, and photographs of some details of her work.  The photographs of the murals are copyright by Karen Carr and Mike Everhart, and may not be used in any form without our written permission. ... and oh, yes, for those of you interested in dinosaurs, I even included a couple of pictures of a very dynamic mount of a Saurophaganax harassing an Apatosaurus at the bottom of the page.  


plate-1a.jpg (4647 bytes) Here is my favorite marine reptile, a mosasaur called Platecarpus, going after a snack (ammonite). There are two large Xiphactinus fish hanging around in the background.   Below are three views of a mosasaur painting by Karen Carr of the same event :
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turtle1a.jpg (3280 bytes) A giant turtle called Protostega also lived in the Western Interior Seaway during the late Cretaceous.  This specimen, about 4 feet long, is still a juvenile.  Adults reached lengths of about 9 feet from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail.
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Ten meter, long-necked Elasmosaurs roamed the seaway in search of small fish while Pteranodons with a 7 meter wingspread soared overhead.

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Giant, flightless birds called Hesperornis fed on fish and squid, and probably behaved much like modern penguins.

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Although not a marine reptile, Xiphactinus grew large enough to be serious competition for the mosasaurs and plesiosaurs that inhabited the Western Interior Seaway. This "Herring on Steroids" grew to 20 feet or more and was capable of swallowing prey fish as large as 6 feet in length, although sometimes that sort of gluttony proved fatal.   This specimen is about 12.5 feet long (Casting done by Triebold Paleontology, Inc).

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If you are traveling through Oklahoma on I-35, or visiting in the Oklahoma City area, I would recommend a visit to the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.   It will be well worth the trip....... Oh, yes, I did mention a dinosaur, didn't I???

carno1a.jpg (3025 bytes) This is Saurophaganax, a Jurassic theropod that was very close to Allosaurus in size.  The exhibit features this large, apparently hungry beast nipping at the flanks of a huge Apatosaurus. A very nice exhibit, and one of several beautiful dinosaur specimens.  The museum also showcases the largest dinosaur skull ever found.... a Pentaceratops with a skull that measures about 9' from the tip of the snout to the top of the frill.... To see them, well, like I said, it is certainly worth the visit. carno2a.jpg (5823 bytes)

The jpg of the Cretaceous Marine mural is copyright Karen Carr.  The photographs of the murals at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History are copyright by Karen Carr and Mike Everhart, and may not be used in any form without our written permission.

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