25 Fascinating Jurassic Animals That Lived with Dinosaurs

3D illustration of prehistoric fish swimming underwater, a land animal on a branch, and flying animals circling above the waters in a forest background

Source by: david.costa.art

Can you imagine the age of dinosaurs with Jurassic animals like a dolphin-like fish or a snuggly mammal? It’s an interesting look at prehistoric times as we’re used to thinking of the Jurassic Period as just dominated by dinosaurs.

But other life forms existed during that time too and lived alongside them. This handy guide to the Jurassic times will introduce 25 fascinating Jurassic period animals you can’t miss.

Here we share creatures both great and small from land, sea, and air. You’ll get to know the Plesiosaurs, Ichthyosaurs, Pterodactyls, and more

Sounds exciting? Let’s get right to it!

Jurassic Land Animals

illustration of a brown platypus-like animal on brown land

Source by: Alfred Brehm

These aren’t your typical land animals. The Jurassic mammals, reptiles, and amphibians’ looks might catch you by surprise.

Mammals are small and shrew-like, reptiles are all sorts of scaly creatures, and amphibians are a mix of bizarre and common-looking animals. Check them out below.

A. Jurassic Mammals

furred statue of a rat-like prehistoric animal displayed on top of a rock

Source by: Theklan

Jurassic mammals are the ancestors of today’s modern furred critters. They had the appearance of small moles and had these distinguishing features:

  • Two sets of teeth: baby and adult teeth
  • Fur (they’re the earliest animals confirmed to have had fur!)
  • Whiskers
  • Epipubic bones (forward-projecting bones from the pelvis)

Take a look at these creatures with three that are Mammaliaforms and two from the Mammalia class.

#1 Castorocauda

graphic art of an otter-like prehistoric animal swimming underwater

Source by: Nobu Tamura

Were you surprised to see a picture of a Jurassic land animal that’s also able to swim? The Castorocauda was one multi-talented animal because it’s able to thrive on land and underwater too just like an otter or platypus.

The largest mammaliaform from the Jurassic period used its arms to dig a home on land where it can rest and nest. The Castorocauda may have also used them to row through the water to help it swim.

Additionally, this Jurassic mammal is the earliest animal known to have fur. Evidence of the Castorocauda possessing fur shows that thermoregulation and a sense of touch was a trait mammal have had even in prehistoric times.

#2 Fruitafossor

graphic art of a small black-brown animal with a long snout

Source by: Nobu Tamura

Fruitafossors were Jurassic mammals resembling the modern armadillo. They had teeth that looked like pegs and strong large limbs at the front.

Their physical features helped them munch on the termites that were part of their daily diet. Its teeth were specially adapted to eat insects.

Fruitafossors used their big limbs to break down termite mounds. Their forelimbs were so strong that scientists even called them Popeye arms. 

These Jurassic land animals aren’t related to the armadillo despite the similarities. Scientists suggest that Fruitafossors are therians (mammals that deliver live young, no eggshells) are more likely related to them.

#3 Juramaia

a small brown animal is hunting a insert in the tree

Source by: Theguardian

If we traveled back to the Late Jurassic and stood under a canopy of trees, we’d hear little hands and feet scurrying along the branches. The Jurassic land animals we’d discover as we looked up would be the Juramaia species.

They’re small mammaliaforms that looked like shrews or rats. They had hands that let them climb trees where they scouted for insects that would become their lunch.

#4 Morganucodon

graphic art of a small brown animal that resembles a mouse

Source by: Nobu Tamura

Twas a night during the Jurassic times and all the other Jurassic mammals were sleeping. But the day was just beginning for a little animal called the Morganocudon.

And so the story goes. The Morganocudon was a nocturnal mammaliform the size of a mouse. It most likely lived in a burrow where it slept throughout the day and went out from at night.

The tiny creature walked with its feet flat on the ground unlike other animals that walked only on their toes. Its favorite food was insects, especially beetles.

#5 Volaticotherium

graphic art of a small brown animal that resembles a flying squirrel

Source by: Wikimedia

Jurassic mammals that can swim, climb trees, and now, can glide like a flying squirrel? How?

The Volaticotherium glided using the muscles between its limbs. It had a flat tail and long arms and legs that gave air more surface to lift the animal. It’s amazing how these animals are just full of surprises.

B. Jurassic Amphibians

close-up photo of a green amphibian’s yellow eye with a black pupil

Source by:David Clode

Long-bodied and slender, small and slippery, these are your amphibians from the Jurassic. They’re primitive animals made up of salamanders, frogs, caecilians (serpent-like amphibians), and temnospondyls.

Get to know the amphibian survivors of the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event in this section.

#6 Eocaecilia

graphic art of a long gray snake-like amphibian with four legs

Source by: Nobu Tamura

Imagine a small snake, about 15 centimeters, but with a pair of legs near its head. Then add another pair near its tail. That’s what the Eocaecilia looked like when it was alive during the Early Jurassic.

Additionally, these Jurassic animals had good eyes. These are in contrast to the poor eyesight and legless bodies of their 21st-century counterparts. More importantly, these unique characteristics help scientists understand how amphibians adapted through the years.

#7 Karaurus

graphic art of an orange-blue salamander-like creature with yellow streaks on its back legs

Source by: Nobu Tamura

The Karaurus is the granddaddy of all salamanders. They’re the oldest species identified because their existence goes way back to the Middle Jurassic around 161 million years ago.

The funny-looking Jurassic animals are believed to have fed on aquatic grub like snails, crustaceans, and worms. They lived in what is now Kazakhstan.

#8 Notobatrachus

graphic art of a green fog

Source by: Nobu Tamura

Looks like a modern frog, doesn’t it? Apples don’t fall far from the tree and descendants from their ancestors.

The Notobatrachus are actually extinct frogs that used to live during the Middle Jurassic at Patagonia, Argentina. These Jurassic amphibians are the world’s most thoroughly understood frog of the Jurassic period.

#9 Siderops

graphic art of a blue-gray salamander-like creature with a flat head shaped like a frog

Source by: Dmitry Bogdanov

Amphibians can win the award for being the most bizarre-looking Jurassic animals. Just like the Siderops’ physical features. They’re like a combination of a frog’s head and a salamander’s body.

It’s a pretty large Jurassic amphibian is it had a skull measuring 50 centimeters and a body as long as 2.5 meters. This large amphibian lived in Australia during the Early Jurassic nearly 177 million years ago.

#10 Vieraella

graphic art of a green frog with a yellow belly and gray spots sitting on top of a rock

Source by: Nobu Tamura

Another amphibian granddaddy is the Vieraella. Having lived 200 million years ago, it’s the most ancient true frog identified.

True frogs are amphibians that have smooth skin, strong hind legs that can jump, and feet with webs between the toes. The Vieraella’s body was close to the criteria and won out over other primitive frogs like the Triadobatrachus.

Jurassic Sea Animals

3D art of a large four-flippered shark-like animal chasing dolphin-alike animals underwater

Source by: Catmando

Before modern oceans teemed with gigantic whales and a great diversity of fish, mighty Jurassic animals like Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs ruled the underwater kingdom. These predatory animals shared the oceans with ancient squid and other large fishes too.

Fascinating, aren’t they? So come on and let’s get to know these mysterious underwater creatures!

#11 Belemnites

3D art of a large four-legged shark-like animal chasing dolphin-alike animals underwater

Source by: Nobu Tamura

Belemnites were giant squid-like Jurassic sea animals that lived in depths nearer the shore. They preyed on small mollusks and crustaceans for food.

Belemnites were abundant during the Jurassic period. These Jurassic sea animals served as an abundant source of food for the sharks and reptiles. This helped the ocean’s ecosystem get back on its feet after having endured a harsh anoxic experience from the Triassic-Jurassic extinction event.

#12 Ichthyosaur

graphic art of a large dolphin-like animal with four flippers chasing gray fish underwater

Source by: Dmitry Bogdanov

My grandma, what big eyes you have! That’s what modern fishes would say if they came face to face with this prehistoric creature.

The Ichthyosaurs were dolphin-like Jurassic animals with big eyes and an extra pair of flippers near their tails. Scientists suggest that their large eyes helped them hunt for food in deep waters where light is considerably dimmer.

They were also carnivorous. Ichthyosaurs used their long snouts to grab food like cephalopods and even ichthyosaurs smaller than them. It’s also on the list of the Top 8 Swimming & Water Dinosaurs.

A good example is the Temnodontosaurus which was an ichthyosaur from the Early Jurassic that was an apex predator. It fed largely on plesiosaurs, other ichthyosaurs, and other ancient fish.

#13 Leedsichthys

graphic art of a large fish swimming underwater

Source by: Dmitry Bogdanov

This fish was so large that its bones were occasionally mistaken for dinosaur bones! There were times when scientists thought they were looking at a stegosaurus’ bones when it was actually a Jurassic sea animal’s bones.

The Leedsichthys is the largest bony fish known to have existed. It was a ray-finned fish that’s estimated to have grown to 33 feet long. It fed primarily on small marine creatures called zooplankton as water passed its mouth and gills.

#14 Liopleurodon

graphic art of a large monster swimming underwater

Source by: DiBgd

Another apex predator from the mysterious oceans is the Liopleurodon. Did you know this Jurassic animal preyed on both land and water?

Check out these interesting facts about the Liopleurodon:

  • It was a Pliosaurid, a kind of Plesiosaur that had a short neck and was characterized by being speedy predators of large creatures.
  • It used its unique sense of smell that’s able to recognize animals even underwater.

It was also a strong swimmer that used its four flippers to accelerate itself quickly as it ambushed prey.

#15 Plesiosaur

graphic art of a large long-necked gray animal chasing an orange squid-like creature underwater

Source by: Dmitry Bogdanov

Sauropods weren’t the only long-necked creatures back in the day. Plesiosaurs were their counterparts in the ocean. They were Jurassic sea animals that had wide flat bodies, short tails, and mildly rigid long necks.

Paleontologists suggest that the length helped them hunt for food. These helped catch animals by surprise as Plesiosaur heads quietly appeared beside the prey.

Here’s another fun fact. Did you know Plesiosaurs gave birth to live young like today’s whales? A fossil of a pregnant Plesiosaur was found in 1987 which had a baby inside measuring around one and a half meters.

a medium-sized kiddie ride with handles of a gray long-necked marine animal

Source by: Onlydinosaurs

The baby discovered was just like this endearing Plesiosaur ride. Kids will love learning about Jurassic sea animals while enjoying the experience of play with this one.

Jurassic Reptiles

close up picture of a reptile’s eye surrounded with a head covered by brown and white scales and black lines

Source by: David Clode

Ancient crocodiles, turtles, and eel-like lizards –these are your Jurassic reptiles. They were a diverse group of animals with some being aquatic and semi-aquatic. Others lived on land too like the famous Tuatara.

Check out these interesting-looking Jurassic animals from Europe, Oceania, Asia, and North America.

#16 Dakosaurus

computer-generated art of a big yellow-green crocodile-like animal with large teeth roaring at the water’s surface

Source by: Michael Rosskothen

Here’s the Late Jurassic’s “greatest biter lizard” – the Dakosaurus maximus. Paleontologist Theodor Plieninger gave it such a name because of the fossilized teeth discovered in Germany. Only a handful of animals could match the kind of teeth it had.

The Dakosaurus’ had large jagged teeth like the killer whales. You’ve got an apex predator when you combine that with the size and shape of their bodies.

It had powerful jaw muscles too. These muscles gave this Jurassic reptile a deadly bite and helped the Dakosaurus “twist feed”. It tore bits and pieces of meat off its unfortunate prey using its powerful muscles.

#17 Goniopholis

lifelike model of an ancient green-gray crocodile displayed beside rocks and green plants

Source by: PePeEfe

The Goniopholis was one of those Jurassic reptiles that were semi-aquatic. They occasionally climbed onto land when the need arises just like the Nile crocodile or the American alligator with whom they have the most similarities in terms of lifestyle.

Fossils of this Jurassic animal were first found in England, Portugal, and France.

#18 Kayentachelys

A black Kayentachelys with a blue background

Source by: Twitter

It’s fascinating how the rock formations we see today used to be bodies of water back in Jurassic days. The prehistoric turtle called the Kayentachelys used to live in a floodplain in ancient Arizona’s Kayenta Formation.

This Jurassic reptile shared its habitat with amphibians like the Eocaecilia and the Prosalirus. They were abundant there, especially the Kayentachelys. The abundance of its species makes it the most numerous turtles in the fossil record that was truly plentiful.

#19 Pleurosaurus

graphic art of long gray lizard-like animals with yellow stripes swimming underwater

Source by: Nobu Tamura

What do Pleurosauruses look like? Imagine an eel with the legs of a frog and short limbs at the front. That’s what these curious-looking Jurassic reptiles looked like.

It swam with an undulating motion and lived in shallow waters. The Pleurosaurus most likely ate fish.

Additionally, the Pleurosaurus is part of the Sphenodontia family and is the Tuatara’s extinct kin. They’re mostly land-based lizards with the exception of the Pleurosaurus which are aquatic.

#20 Tuatara

a green scaled reptile with white spiny crests on its back

Source by: Bernard Spragg 

Did you know Tuataras can live up to a hundred years old? These Jurassic reptiles sure can stand the test of time thanks to their long lifespans.

These animals native to New Zealand are also the only living members of the Rhynchocephalia which go as far back as 250 million years ago. Amazing, right?

The tuatara lives on land and are most active during the night. They dig burrows to provide shelter for themselves and feed on little critters like crickets and beetles.

Jurassic Flying Animals

3D art of a large winged brown animal with a long snout flying in the air over a green forest with a sunset in the background

Source by: Warpaint

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no — it’s a Pterosaur! Birds and planes may not have existed in the Mesozoic Era but flying animals in the Jurassic period called Pterosaurs sure did.

These magnificent creatures were the first animals identified to exercise powered flight. Powered flight in animals is the ability to hoist and thrust itself up so it can rise in the air and fly.

Let’s get to know the different species that had this unique ability!

#21 Dimorphodon

an animatronic light brown winged animal with a long wide snout suspended from a tree

Source by: Onlydinosaurs

Are you looking for a friendly-looking flying Jurassic animal to introduce to young children? The Dimorphodon’s medium-sized body, short wings, and puffin-like face is a good animal to start with. This lively animatronic Dimorphodon is a good example.

It’s an interesting animal too. Did you know the Dimorphodon was an animal that could walk using its legs and arms on top of being able to fly short distances?

Additionally, the Dimorphodon had two different kinds of teeth in its jaws which inspired its name. These may have helped it “snap and hold” small mammals and lizards it caught as prey to keep them from escaping.

#22 Dorygnathus

a grey winged animal with a long tail

Source by: Dmitry Bogdanov

My grandma, what big teeth you have! If Jurassic animals like the Ichthyosaurs had big eyes, the Dorygnathus had big teeth.

Paleontologists call the Dorygnathus’ combination of big bent teeth at the front and the straight ones at the back “heterodonty”. This combination was all the better as it helped gobble up the little fish they caught from the Jurassic seas.

#23 Gnathosaurus

graphic art of two brown-winged white animals with long yellow beaks flying around a green crocodile-like animal

Source by: Dmitry Bogdanov

Can you guess how many teeth this flying animal has? Scientists found an 11-inch skull of the Gnathosaurus and discovered 130 pieces of needle-shaped teeth inside!

Its long jaw that housed its many teeth was even mistaken by paleontologist Georg zu Munster for a crocodile’s. Little did he know it was a Jurassic animal that opened its jaws wide open and quickly closed when it finally caught food.

#24 Kryptodrakon

two kryptodrakons in a red sky background

Source by: Pin

Here’s another granddaddy from our Jurassic animals list, the Kryptodrakon. It’s the oldest known pterodactyloid having lived nearly 163 million years ago during the Middle Jurassic.

This ancient flying creature had wings of only 4.8 feet. But it’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it’s made to live. Scientists simply see the shortness of its wings as typical of Jurassic animals that lived further inland and away from the coast, like forests.

#25 Pterodactylus

3D art of two large brown winged flying animals with long beaks flying beside a red animal with dark red-striped wings

Source by: Dariush M

The Pterodactylus is probably the most easily recognized flying Jurassic animal. Its iconic wide wings and long head crest have made it memorable as people saw it in the movies and TV.

Here are two interesting facts about the Pterodactylus in real life:

  • Its famous wings were made of skin that had a muscle membrane stretching in between its fourth finger up to its back limbs.
  • The Pterodactylus’ long head crest appeared as the animal matured. This was mostly made of soft tissue.

Jurassic Animals: Creatures That Completed the Jurassic Period Picture

3D art of several animals swimming underwater with flying animals and rock formations in the background

Source by: Liliya

How did you like the Jurassic animals you learned about in this article? We hope you were fascinated by the diversity of these ancient creatures from land, sea, and air. Together, they formed ecosystems that helped their world thrive.

Now you know what kinds of animals lived with your beloved dinosaurs. You won’t run out of great ideas to pair up an awesome dinosaur costume anymore.

We’ll see you at our next blog post, hope you enjoyed this one!

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