Fossil Favourite Stamp Ichthyosaur
Ichthyosaur copyright Nicholls 2014
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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