Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Reptilia
Subclass Diapsida
Order Ichthyosauria
Family Ophthalmosauridae
Subfamily Platypterygiinae
Genus Platyptergius
1st Species Platypterygius platydactylus
2nd Species Platypterygius australis
3rd Species Platypterygius kiprijanoffi
4th Species Platypterygius ochevi
Other attributes
Time Range 131-91 mya
Location Germany, Australia, Russia, United States of America, Colombia (possibly New Zealand)
Name Meaning Flat flipper
Physical Dimensions 5.6 meters long
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Platypterygius is an ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaurian reptile from the Early-Late Cretaceous of Germany, Australia, Russia, United States of America, Colombia, and possibly New Zealand. It was officially named in 1922 by Friedrich von Huene. It was one of the last ichthyosaurs to survive in the Mesozoic, as well as one of the most successful; as well as this, it was once thought to be a species of Ichthyosaurus, right before the discovery of a new species caused it to become its own genus.


Platypterygius was an ichthyosaur with a sleek, streamlined body, 4 flippers, a long tail with a shark-like fin on its end, a large fin on its back, a conical head with large jaws, and small eyes on the sides of its head. Its body would have been covered in scaly skin.


Platypterygius was a predator, but its diet varied across species. Earlier species like Platypterygius sachicarum and Platypterygius hautali had thin and pointy teeth, which were used for catching slippery fish and cephalopods, while later species like Platypterygius australis and Platypterygius americanus had sturdy and heavily built teeth, which were used for crushing the bones of plesiosaurs and the protective shells of turtles; in fact, one P.australis specimen was reported with unique stomach contents, and it is speculated that some individuals were bold enough to jump out of the water and catch primitive seabirds passing by.


The most interesting thing to note about Platypterygius is that its diet changed over the course of its evolution; for the first 23 million years after it evolved, members of the genus like the aforementioned P.hautali had a streamlined body plan and long flippers for pursuing fast prey like fish and cephalopods, which they would then snag with their thin and pointy teeth. Over the later 28 years of the genus' lifespan, species such as the aforementioned P. americanus and P.australis had a bulkier build and shorter flippers for chasing and overpowering more heavyweight prey such as marine reptiles, which they would then crush with their sturdy and robust teeth; in fact, the latter of the two species is known to have had preyed on passing seabirds on time to time. Another interesting thing to note about Platypterygius is that it gave live birth; babies were expelled from their mother's womb head-first in order to prevent any risk of drowning. A CAT scan on the fossilized bones of a juvenile Platypterygius has led everyone to believe that it was most likely deaf, mainly because their ear bones were too thick to detect noise vibrations and set too deep in their skull; these CAT scans also showed that it had a sensitive snout, which most likely served a similar purpose to the lateral line of a shark.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.