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An Ancient Swim Team-Sea Reptiles!



An Ancient Swim Team-Sea Reptiles!
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.58

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    circular, clumsy, criss, ichthyosaur, nothosaur, nothosaurs, rubbery, ancient, snout, underwater, peering, easily, reptile, swimmers, skinny, certainly
     content words:    Late Triassic, Mary Anning, Finding Nemo


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An Ancient Swim Team-Sea Reptiles!
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Putting together a swim team in ancient times would have been exciting. Sea reptiles would have been good members of your team. They loved to just keep swimming all the time!
 
2     These reptiles had good reasons for going to sea. Swimming was easier than walking on land. They found more food. Their bodies changed a little to adapt to life in the ocean. Their bodies had extra fingers and toe bones. Many of them also had fins and flippers. They even had extra bones in their flippers to make them stiffer. All of this helped them swim fast.
 
3     But they couldn't swim all the time no matter how much they liked it. Reptiles breathed air, so they still had to come up to the water's surface. Sea reptiles had nostrils on top of their heads to make it easier to catch a breath. They probably looked like sea monsters peering up from the smooth seas.
 
4     Sea reptiles also had a flap at the back of their mouth. This flap closed their windpipes so water did not go down their throats. It is hard to know how long these reptiles stayed underwater. Modern crocodiles can sit down below for several hours when they are resting. But they come up for air every 5 to 10 minutes when they are busy swimming.
 
5     If you made a swim team with different sea reptiles, you would discover that they all had different ways of swimming. They had different kinds of strokes. Some of them zipped through the water like fish. They used their tails to push through the water as they bent from side to side. Others used their flippers. They made a circular motion with them. Their front flippers did all the work. The back ones hardly moved at all.

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