- Lower Jurassic,
- Holzmaden in Southern Germany.
- This matrix measures 28″ long x 18″ wide.
- This is a really cool specimen! This is a skull from an Ichthyosaur that has started to disarticulate.. The bones have drifted apart, and most of the teeth have drifted out of the jaws.. super eye appealing and super rare!
Ichthyosaurs (Greek for “fish lizard” – ιχθυς or ichthys meaning “fish” and σαυρος or sauros meaning “lizard”) are large extinct marine reptiles. Ichthyosaurs belong to the order known as Ichthyosauria or Ichthyopterygia (‘fish flippers’ – a designation introduced by Sir Richard Owen in 1840, although the term is now used more for the parent clade of the Ichthyosauria). Ichthyosaurs lived during the time of the dinosaurs, but formed a separate group from the dinosaurs and may not have been closely related to them.
Ichthyosaurs thrived during much of the Mesozoic era; based on fossil evidence, they first appeared around 250 million years ago (Ma) and at least one species survived until about 90 million years ago, into the Late Cretaceous. During the early Triassic period, ichthyosaurs evolved from a group of unidentified land reptiles that returned to the sea, in a development similar to how the mammalian land-dwelling ancestors of modern-day dolphins and whales returned to the sea millions of years later, which they gradually came to resemble in a case of convergent evolution. Ichthyosaurs were particularly abundant in the later Triassic and early Jurassic periods, until they were replaced as the top aquatic predators by another marine reptilian group, the Plesiosauria, in the later Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. In the Late Cretaceous, ichthyosaurs were hard hit by the Cenomanian-Turonian anoxic event. Their last lineage became extinct for unknown reasons.
Science became aware of the existence of ichthyosaurs during the early nineteenth century, when the first complete skeletons were found in England. In 1834, the order Ichthyosauria was named. Later that century, many excellently preserved ichthyosaur fossils were discovered in Germany, including soft-tissue remains. Since the late twentieth century, there has been a revived interest in the group, leading to an increased number of named ichthyosaurs from all continents, with over fifty valid genera being now known.