Ichthyosaurus Vertebrae | England
Approx. size: 9" x 4.75" x 4.75"
Ichthyosaurs are extinct marine reptiles that resembled swordfish and dolphins. Species varied in size from 1 to 20 meters (3 to 66 ft). They had torpedo-shaped bodies with long, needle-like jaws, large pectoral fins, and crescent-shaped tails. Their crescent-shaped tails allowed them to propel to high speeds in the water, indicating that they ate a fish diet. This has been backed up by examination of coprolites (fossil feces). At least some ichthyosaurs possessed a dorsal fin. Ichthyosaurs also had large eyes; some of the largest relative to body size of any organism. While they may have resembled swordfish and dolphins, they were in fact reptiles. They had lungs rather than gills, and had to surface to breathe. They were also warm-blooded and gave birth to live young.