Facts about Ichthyosaurs, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Ichthyosaurs

Ichthyosaurs



Ichthyosaurus
Click here for more Ichthyosaur Pictures

Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Chordata
  Class Sauropsida
  Subclass Diapsida
  Superorder Ichthyopterygia
  Order Ichthyosauria
Ichthyosaurs were large marine reptiles that lived through most of the Mesozoic Era. They seem to have evolved from a group of terrestrial reptiles (a group which is still to be identified) during the early Triassic period, about 245 million years ago, initially looking rather like lizards with fins.

Ichthyosaurs continued to evolve during the Triassic period, and both dolphin-like and somewhat serpent-like forms existed, the latter sometimes growing to huge sizes, as much as 50 feet (15 meters) in length. By the early Jurassic period, Ichthyosaurs had reached their peak of diversity, and a long slow decline in diversity continued through the Jurassic and into the Cretaceous period. The last Icthyosaurs finally became extinct during the middle to late Cretaceous, perhaps about 90 million years ago.

In outward physical form, Ichthyosaurs tend to resemble whales, dolphins or sharks. This is a result of convergent evolution - sharks, cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), and ichthyosaurs all evolved similar body shapes, because it is a good hydrodynamic solution for swimming.

Fossilized ichthyosaur:
Ichthyosaur fossil

One difference between Ichthyosaurs and many other marine predators, is that it is believed that Ichthyosaurs probably hunted by sight (rather than for example echo-location). Part of the evidence for this is that Ichthyosaurs generally had comparatively large eyes - one particular genus of Ichthyosaur, namely Temnodontosaurus which lived in Jurassic Europe and was about 30 feet (12 meters) long, had the largest eyes of any known vertebrate - its eyes were 10 inches (26 centimeters) in diameter.

Another noteworthy fact about Ichthyosaurs is that at least some species, perhaps even all species, seem to have given birth to live young. The evidence for this is that fossils have been found of Ichthyosaurs containing fossils of babies within the abdomen. It has been suggested that perhaps these babies were stomach contents and therefore evidence of cannibalism, however it seems more likely that these fossils show a pregnant Ichthyosaur that died just before (or perhaps even during) giving birth.

Fossil fragments of Ichthyosaurs have been known since at least 1699, however the the first complete fossil specimen was found by Mary Anning in 1811 in Lyme Regis, England (Mary Anning subsequently discovered three species of Ichthyosaur). A large number of other fossils were also found by a 1905 expedition to central Nevada, including a 55 foot (17 meter) Shonisaurus (a very large, late Triassic Ichthyosaur), which since 1977, has been designated as Nevada's State Fossil.

Ichthyosaurs Timeline:



Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles that lived between 245 and 90 million years ago

Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles that lived between 245 and 90 million years ago


Related Information & Resources


See Also

Ichthyosaur Books


Here are some books from Amazon.com:

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Ichthyosaurs (Exploring Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures)
By Susan H. Gray

Core Learning Library
Kindle Edition (32 pages)

Ichthyosaurs (Exploring Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures)
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Description:
Ichthyosaurs (Exploring Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures)
  • Manufacturer: Core Learning Library
Details:
  • Kindle Edition
  • Format: Kindle eBook
  • Number of Pages: 32
  • Author: Susan H. Gray
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When the Whales Walked: And Other Incredible Evolutionary Journeys
By Dougal Dixon

words & pictures
Released: October 16th, 2018
Hardcover (64 pages)

When the Whales Walked: And Other Incredible Evolutionary Journeys
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Description:
When the Whales Walked: And Other Incredible Evolutionary Journeys
  • Manufacturer: words & pictures
  • Brand: words & pictures
  • ISBN: 1912413973
  • EAN: 9781912413973
  • PartNumber: Illustrations, unspecified
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Number of Pages: 64
  • Author: Dougal Dixon
  • Publication Date: October 16th, 2018
  • Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Physical Description:
  • Size: 11.875 Inches by 8.625 Inches by 0.5 Inches
  • Weight: 1.19931470528 Pounds
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Ichthyosaur (21st Century Junior Library: Dinosaurs)
By Josh Gregory

Cherry Lake Publishing
Kindle Edition (24 pages)

Ichthyosaur (21st Century Junior Library: Dinosaurs)
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Description:
Ichthyosaur (21st Century Junior Library: Dinosaurs)
  • Manufacturer: Cherry Lake Publishing
Details:
  • Kindle Edition
  • Format: Kindle eBook
  • Number of Pages: 24
  • Author: Josh Gregory
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Ichthyosaurs: A History of Fossil 'sea-dragons'
By S.R. Howe & H.S. Torrens

National Museums and Galleries of Wales
Paperback (32 pages)

Ichthyosaurs: A History of Fossil  sea-dragons
Lowest Used Price: $923.90*
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Description:
Ichthyosaurs: A History of Fossil 'sea-dragons'
  • Manufacturer: National Museums and Galleries of Wales
  • ISBN: 072000232X
  • EAN: 9780720002324
Details:
  • Paperback
  • Number of Pages: 32
  • Authors: S.R. Howe, T. Sharpe, H.S. Torrens
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Neptune’s Ark: From Ichthyosaurs to Orcas
By David Rains Wallace

University of California Press
Released: May 14th, 2007
Hardcover (313 pages)

Neptune’s Ark: From Ichthyosaurs to Orcas
List Price: $85.00*
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Description:
Neptune’s Ark: From Ichthyosaurs to Orcas
  • Manufacturer: University of California Press
  • ISBN: 0520243226
  • EAN: 9780520243224
Details:
  • Hardcover
  • Edition: 1
  • Number of Pages: 313
  • Author: David Rains Wallace
  • Publication Date: May 14th, 2007
  • Release Date: May 14th, 2007
Physical Description:
  • Size: 9.4 Inches by 6.5 Inches by 1.0 Inches
  • Weight: 1.0692419707 Pounds
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Mesozoic Sea Dragons: Triassic Marine Life from the Ancient Tropical Lagoon of Monte San Giorgio (Life of the Past)
By Olivier Rieppel

Indiana University Press
Kindle Edition (256 pages)

Mesozoic Sea Dragons: Triassic Marine Life from the Ancient Tropical Lagoon of Monte San Giorgio (Life of the Past)
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Description:
Mesozoic Sea Dragons: Triassic Marine Life from the Ancient Tropical Lagoon of Monte San Giorgio (Life of the Past)
  • Manufacturer: Indiana University Press
Details:
  • Kindle Edition
  • Format: Kindle eBook
  • Number of Pages: 256
  • Author: Olivier Rieppel
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Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park Nevada Hiking & Adventure Guide Franko Maps Waterproof Map
By Franko Maps Ltd.

Franko Maps Ltd.
Released: May 23rd, 2016
Map (2 pages)

Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park Nevada Hiking & Adventure Guide Franko Maps Waterproof Map
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Description:
Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park Nevada Hiking & Adventure Guide Franko Maps Waterproof Map
  • Manufacturer: Franko Maps Ltd.
  • ISBN: 1601904878
  • EAN: 9781601904874
Details:
  • Product Category: Map
  • Number of Pages: 2
  • Author: Franko Maps Ltd.
  • Publication Date: May 23rd, 2016
  • Release Date: May 23rd, 2016
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A giant Late Triassic ichthyosaur from the UK and a reinterpretation of the Aust Cliff dinosaurian bones
By National Institutes of Health

Kindle Edition (30 pages)

A giant Late Triassic ichthyosaur from the UK and a reinterpretation of the Aust Cliff dinosaurian bones
Lowest New Price: $2.99*
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Description:
A giant Late Triassic ichthyosaur from the UK and a reinterpretation of the Aust Cliff dinosaurian bones

Details:
  • Kindle Edition
  • Format: Kindle eBook
  • Number of Pages: 30
  • Author: National Institutes of Health
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Monster Fish: The Adventure of the Ichthyosaurs (Dinosaur World)
By Michael Dahl

Brand: Picture Window Books
Released: January 1st, 2005
Library Binding (24 pages)

Monster Fish: The Adventure of the Ichthyosaurs (Dinosaur World)
Lowest New Price: $49.45*
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Description:
Monster Fish: The Adventure of the Ichthyosaurs (Dinosaur World)
  • Manufacturer: Picture Window Books
  • Brand: Brand: Picture Window Books
  • ISBN: 1404809414
  • EAN: 9781404809413
Details:
  • Product Category: Library Binding
  • Number of Pages: 24
  • Author: Michael Dahl
  • Publication Date: January 1st, 2005
  • Release Date: January 1st, 2005
Physical Description:
  • Size: 8.99999999082 Inches by 10.99999998878 Inches by 0.31102362173 Inches
  • Weight: 0.8 Pounds
Features:
  • Used Book in Good Condition
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A New Upper Jurassic Ophthalmosaurid Ichthyosaur from the Slottsmya Member, Agardhfjellet Formation of Central Spitsbergen
By National Institutes of Health

Kindle Edition (59 pages)

A New Upper Jurassic Ophthalmosaurid Ichthyosaur from the Slottsmya Member, Agardhfjellet Formation of Central Spitsbergen
Lowest New Price: $3.99*
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Description:
A New Upper Jurassic Ophthalmosaurid Ichthyosaur from the Slottsmya Member, Agardhfjellet Formation of Central Spitsbergen

Details:
  • Kindle Edition
  • Format: Kindle eBook
  • Number of Pages: 59
  • Author: National Institutes of Health
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