It’s a pterosaur! It’s a giraffe! No, wait, it’s a…trap?

A very strange-looking reptile once lurked in the waters of the earth in the Triassic period, and a new study sheds light on why its appearance was so odd. This ancient reptile, Tanystropheus, had a slender neck that literally made up half the length of its body! Scientists scratched their collective heads over this long neck for over 170 years, but recently began examining the fossils of this venerable creature using advanced X-rays and computerized tomography. They came to the conclusion that Tanystropheus (which came in two varieties, large and small) hunkered down on the shallow coastal ocean floor and raised its head out of the water, with its nostrils on top like a crocodile’s, to hunt. It would lift its long neck up to get a breath of air, and gape its mouth open to wait for prey—fish and squid for the larger animals, shrimp for the smaller—to pass by. Then—dinnertime! More information about this fascinating reptilian ancestor may be found here.