Nimrod (Tauropanthera nimrod) is an Asian cousin of the cheetaur (Tauropanthera velox). Unlike its African relative, the nimrod is a pack-hunter which relies more on cooperation and endurance than explosive speed.

Ironically the largest known saurocete was not first discovered in the sea. During the first years of spexploration, some of the spexplorers studying seaside ecosystems came accross a gargantuan rotting hulk that had been washed ashore. It 18 meters long and was easily recognized as a lizardwhale, but as the spexplorers lacked the appropriate equpment, and the carcass was in such an advanced state of decomposition that a further analysis was impossible to make at the time. The remains were hastily measured and photographed, and later some of the skeletal remains were retrieved. This became the holotype specimen of Nodens incredibilis.

Later several other skeletons were discovered. Largest of these, consisting of little more than a skull measuring over 4 meters long, lead to an estimate that Nodens could grow over 20 meters long. At the time it became the longest known marine vertebrate on Spec. It still took some time before the first verified eyewitness sighting of a living specimen. Through a lucky coincidence, a group of marine biologists happened to be near a Nodens mating area, and managed to film the animals both above and under water.

The film revealed that much of the forequarters of the giant lizardwhales were covered in curious looking scars, some resembling those left by giant squid tentacles on sperm whales and others more unusual in appearance. It was deduced that the main diet of Nodens consisted of giant cephalopods, but the peculiar scars lead to some dispute over what had caused them. Some claimed they were bitemarks of some kind while others blamed the infamous great ktulu, which was reported as having feeding tentacles ending in hand-like extensions covered in wicked hooks. A photograph of a large Nodens individual with a severed end of a tentacle ending in finger-like extensions still stuck on its skin only helped to fuel the controversy.

While the actual hunting and feeding of Nodens is yet to be observed, we do know that they are solitary most of the year and find their prey in the murky depths of the ocean teeming with myriads of exotic cephalopod species. These saurocetes seem to fill the niche of HE sperm whales, although we can only speculate at the differences in their hunting strategies. Despite having eyes not much larger than a human head, they are known to have a keen vision especially in the dark. It is worth noting that Nodens are much more likely to move close to the surface at night than during the day.

While Nodens seemingly has a lot in common with mosarks, the latest analysis places it closest to nauticratisaurs. Though reports of Nodens individuals longer than 20,5 meters are unverified, it still holds the record of the largest known mosasaur, being more massive than the even longer Gigantoserpens.

Two smaller mantasquid genera, Alanatator (above) and Papilloteuthis (below). The species in question are the dwarf mantasquid (Alanatator minor) and striated butterfly squid (Papilloteuthis striatus).

butterfly squid (Papilloteuthis) anatomical sketches

All material on this page is copyright © M. Aumala 2004