Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Order Ichthyosauria
Family Ichthyosauridae
Genus Ichthyosaurus
1st Species Ichthyosaurus communis
2nd Species Ichthyosaurus breviceps
3rd Species Ichthyosaurus conybeari
4th Species Ichthyosaurus ceramensis
Other attributes
Time Range 208-183 mya
Location United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland
Name Meaning Fish reptile
Physical Dimensions 2.5 meters long for I.communis; 1.6 meters long for I.breviceps; 3.3 meters long for I.somersetensis
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Ichthyosaurus is an ichthyosaurid ichthyosaurian reptile from the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic of the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland. It was named in 1821 by Henry De la Beche and William Daniel Conybeare. It was the first marine reptile (nicknamed antediluvian reptile at the time) known to science, and, like any early-known Mesozoic animal, it was a wastebasket taxon.


Ichthyosaurus resembled a mix between a shark and a dolphin. It had a sleek, streamlined body, 4 flippers, a long tail with a shark-like fin on its end, a large fin on its back, and a conical head with large jaws. Its body would have been covered in scaly skin.


Ichthyosaurus was a predator, preying on fish and cephalopods. Its teeth were small yet sharp, and were used to get a hold of slippery prey.


Like other advanced marine reptiles, Ichthyosaurus would have had a build that rendered it extremely adapted to life in the water (in this case, a streamlined, fish-like body and large fins), and so, it would have been unable to clamber onto dry land. Due to this, it gave birth to live young; Ichthyosaurus pups were delivered tail-first in order to eliminate any chances of drowning. Due to its large eyes (which were protected by bony shields), it was a visually-oriented predator; however, it also had solid ear bones, and so, it could have "heard" its prey through vibrations in the water. As well as this, its streamlined build and large tail fin allowed it to swim at swift speeds, much like sharks and dolphins today.

In popular cultureEdit

Ichthyosaurs was the 1st Mesozoic animal discovered, so it was featured in Crystal Palace Park (a pleasure ground in London), alongside Iguanodon (depicted as a horned dragon), Megalosaurus (also depicted as a dragon), Pterodactylus, Plesiosaurus, and Mosasaurus (depicted as a giant, iguana-like squamate). Since then, it has been featured in major pieces of media such as the original Journey to the Center of the Earth novel (where it engaged in combat with a Plesiosaurus), The Lost World novel, and Moschops; it was even planned to be in Jurassic World before it got cut.

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