|While dinosaurs once ruled the earth, other animals ruled the seas. Take the Ichthyosaurus, a perfect example of what I'm talking about. They have a large dorsal fin, much like a dolphin. Or, actually more like a shark.
Perhaps the best known member of the ichthyosaur family, Ichthyosaurus was smaller than most of its relatives.
Ichthyosaurus was discovered in England in the early 19th century by fossil collector Mary Anning. Like many Victorian discovaries, Ichthyosaurus became a wastebasket taxon for ichthyosaurs; with over 50 species being named by 1900. Many of these have since been moved to new genera, leaving six species of Ichthyosaurus as recognised.
Ichthyosaurus was a relatively small ichthyosauridae and the earliest genus to develop the family's familiar fish or dolphin like shape. In comparision, the majority of Triassic ichthyosaurs had more eel like bodies. Ichthyosaurus was fully adapted to aquatic life and hunted small prey such as fish and cephalopods. Its ear bones were solid, transferring water vibrations to the inner ear and thus allowing them to locate prey. Due to their body shape, all ichthyosaurs gave birth to live young, with the babies born tail first to prevent them from drowning.
Ichthyosaurus fossils have been found mainly in Europe; including the British Isles, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. A species has also been found in Indonesia.
Behind the scenes
- Ichthyosaurus on Wikipedia