Artist’s impression of an ichthyosaur
Super-fast, streamlined sea monsters
- The ichthyosaur was a giant marine reptile that ruled the sea some 250 million years ago.
- It was a strong, fast swimmer with four crescent-shaped fins (or paddles), a dorsal fin and a fish-like tail. It ranged in size from one to nine metres.
- The ichthyosaur breathed air through its nostrils. It had huge eyes supported by a ring of bony plates to help focus the eye when diving.
- It had strong jaws and sharp teeth for snapping up fish, octopus and squid-like belemnites. In some of our ichthyosaur fossils, remains of fish and belemnites can be seen in the stomach.
- Ichthyosaurs gave birth to live young – fossils have been found with baby ichthyosaurs in the abdomen.
- Occasionally, almost-complete skeletons of ichthyosaurs are found, but usually they were scavenged and broken up before they were buried.
- Meet this impressive ichthyosaur at Lyme Regis Museum.
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