Walking With Wikis


Great long neck, great long tail, there's hardly any body at all!

Sea Monsters, Dangerous Seas

Tanystropheus was a large marine reptile (a member of the Tanystropheidae family) from the Triassic. Its most striking feature was its almost-impossibly long neck and tail that almost defied the laws of physics.

Creature attributes

Physical appearance and biology

Tanystropheus was a medium-sized, quadrupedal marine reptile. It had a small body with short legs. Most of its body comprised of its insanely long neck and tail. On the tip of its neck was a relatively small head with jaws lined with sharp teeth used to grip onto slippery fish.

The neck of Tanystropheus was light blue whilst its body was green. Its tail had black and white stripes.

Behaviour and traits

In Sea Monsters, Tanystropheus was depicted as a solitary underwater hunter. It used its incredibly long neck to probe into fish shoals and catch prey. However, despite this useful technique, its long neck prohibited it from being a good swimmer.

The tail of Tanystropheus was long and acted like that of modern lizards. If a predator caught it by the tail, the Tanystropheus can voluntarily drop its tail to create a diversion as it escapes. This was also useful for the predators as the tail could serve as a decent meal.

In Sea Monsters

Dangerous Seas

After encountering a pair of Nothosaurus, Nigel Marven found a Tanystropheus dwelling within some coral. As Nigel swam close to the animal, he grabbed onto its tail. Initiating its survival mechanism, the Tanystropheus dropped its tail and swam off.

The spasming, disembodied tail was suddenly snatched off of Nigel by a Cymbospondylus.

Behind the scenes

There is no evidence that Tanystropheus could really autotomize its tail, as it is only distantly related to the modern lizards that can.

Tanystropheus is depicted as a primarily aquatic animal, while most paleontologists now believe that it was mostly terrestrial, sitting on the coast and using its long neck to catch fish from afar.


List of appearances

Notes and references