Mesozoic Sea Dragons

Mesozoic Sea Dragons

Triassic Marine Life from the Ancient Tropical Lagoon of Monte San Giorgio

Olivier Rieppel


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An extensive, illustrated study of the ancient fish and marine reptiles who once lived in a tropical lagoon that is now a Swiss mountain.

Told in rich detail and with gorgeous color recreations, this is the story of marine life in the age before the dinosaurs. During the Middle Triassic Period (247–237 million years ago), the mountain of Monte San Giorgio in Switzerland was a tropical lagoon. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it boasts an astonishing fossil record of marine life from that time. Attracted to an incredibly diverse and well-preserved set of fossils, Swiss and Italian paleontologists have been excavating the mountain since 1850.

Synthesizing and interpreting over a century of discoveries through a critical twenty-first century lens, paleontologist Olivier Rieppel tells for the first time the complete story of the fish and marine reptiles who made that long-ago lagoon their home. Through careful analysis and vividly rendered recreations, he offers memorable glimpses of not only what Thalattosaurs, Protorosaurs, Ichthyosaurs,Pachypleurosaurs, and other marine life looked like but how they moved and lived in the lagoon.

An invaluable resource for specialists and accessible to all, this book is essential to all who are fascinated with ancient marine life.

Praise for Mesozoic Sea Dragons

“The most comprehensive review of the Middle Triassic marine faunas of Monte San Giorgio published to date. It synthesizes a vast body of literature in an accessible way and provides an informative, beautifully illustrated review of the vertebrate life that once thrived in the ancient lagoon. It also delivers a fascinating account of the history of fossil discoveries of this remarkable site.” —Palaeontologia Electronica


Olivier Rieppel:

Olivier Rieppel is Rowe Family Curator of Evolutionary Biology at the Field Museum in Chicago. He is author of Turtles as Hopeful Monsters: Origins and Evolution.