Fun Ichthyosaurus Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
Jan 13, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Nov 01, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Interesting Ichthyosaurus facts include that they were marine reptiles.

Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles living 145 million years ago, mainly during the Early Jurassic period. It is named 'fish lizard' in Greek by Henry De la Neche and William Conybeare.

It was first discovered in the early 19th century by Mary Anning in England. The name for the marine reptiles group, ichthyosaurs, was first put to use by Charles Konig in 1818.

Almost all fossil ichthyosaurs during the 19th century were attributed to the Ichthyosaurus marine reptile, due to which the genus had 50 species by 1900. These species were subsequently moved to separate genera and used interchangeably with other species.

They were built for speed and paddled with their tails, fins, and short fingers. They were predators from the Ichthyosauria group animals that breathed air without gills.

For more relatable content, check out these Tylosaurus facts and Mesosaurus facts for kids.

Ichthyosaurus Interesting Facts

Was the Ichthyosaurus a dinosaur?

Ichthyosaurs, belonging to the order Ichthyosauria or Ichthyopterygia, are large extinct marine reptiles. The group ichthyosaur belonged to the Early Jurassic period animals.

How do you pronounce 'Ichthyosaurus'?

Ichthyosaurus pronunciation is 'Ick-thee-oh-sore-us'.

What type of prehistoric reptile was an Ichthyosaurus?

The Ichthyosaurus is a fish lizard-like marine reptile in the genus of ichthyosaurs from the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic of Europe.

In which geological period did the Ichthyosaurus live?

The remains of the family of this Ichthyosaurus allow us to estimate that these dinosaurs lived in the world during the Hettangian to Sinemurian of the Jurassic period. The geographical distribution of ichthyosaurs and their fossil is from almost the entire Mesozoic era. However, they are the most abundantly found animals from the Triassic and Jurassic periods.

When did the Ichthyosaurus become extinct?

The geographical distribution of the Ichthyosaurus skeleton and their fossils are from almost the entire Mesozoic Era. However, they are most abundantly found from the Triassic and Jurassic periods and spread diversely. They are known to have gone extinct about 145.5 million years ago. They went extinct due to climatic changes in the early Late Cretaceous period.

Where did an Ichthyosaurus live?

According to the discovery of the Ichthyosaurus fossil, it has been concluded that the species must have lived in what what is modern-day Europe including,‭ ‬Belgium,‭ England,‭ ‬Germany, and Switzerland. They went extinct from these areas about 145.5 million years ago.

What was an Ichthyosaurus' habitat?

The Ichthyosaurus lived mostly in a marine environment and in the oceans. Although their ancestors were said to be terrestrial, they were mostly marine. They were different from dinosaurs, but they did live at the same time as many of them.

Who did an Ichthyosaurus live with?

Ichthyosaurus lived through the Middle to the Early Jurassic period with other dinosaur species like Oviraptor, Segnosaurus, Khaan, and Tarbosaurus.

How long did an Ichthyosaurus live?

Ichthyosaurus dinosaurs are believed to have lived until 145.5 million years ago. The exact life span of this species is still unknown, but there are some instances where remains have dated back 95 million years ago, meaning some were alive even during the Middle Cretaceous.

How did they reproduce?

Surprisingly, unlike many other fishes, reptiles, and even dinosaur species that did not give birth, the reproduction technique of this dinosaur was viviparous. They gave birth to live young ones. However, this was not very uncommon in Mesozoic Era reptiles. They gave birth through their tail canal, which allowed the young ones to get accustomed to external climatic conditions. 

Ichthyosaurus Fun Facts

What did an Ichthyosaurus look like?

The Ichthyosaurus was not as large as the other creatures of the group. They ranged up to 11 ft (3.3 m) in length. Ichthyosaurus fossils had baby specimens that were well-preserved and fully articulated.

This led to the conclusion that the marine reptile was not oviparous. Jurassic ichthyosaurs had an enormous caudal fin placed on their back.

It also had a fleshy dorsal fin. The morphology of ichthyosaurs suggests that they had distinct humerus and coracoids than the other ichthyosaurs of the Lower Jurassic Ichthyosaurus. They can be distinguished from other ichthyosaurs because they had five forefingers.

How many bones did an Ichthyosaurus have?

Ichthyosaurus skin specimens and bone fossils have been recovered at places. The features show no clear distinction in the dorsal fin, but features of the caudal fins are quite prominent. The body was rather streamlined, with bones mostly arranged in the same fashion.

How did they communicate?

It is unknown how exactly the Ichthyosaurus communicated with each other or with dinosaurs of other species. It is believed that dinosaurs used to communicate by hissing, grinding mandibles against upper jaws, rubbing scales together, clapping their jaws together, and by the use of environmental materials like splashing against water.

According to the same assumption, it is believed that the head crests of some species were also used to amplify grunts or bellow.

It is thought that dinosaurs communicated vocally and visually. These two modes of communication would have been most used during defensive posturing, courtship behavior, and territory fights.

How big was an Ichthyosaurus?

The exact measurements regarding an Ichthyosaurus' height and length are unknown. However, the Ichthyosaurus' specimen size is estimated to be about 6 ft (1.8 m) long, but the largest individuals measure up to 11 ft (3.3 m) long.

How fast could an Ichthyosaurus move?

The Ichthyosaurus was a fast swimmer that steered itself using a well-developed tail. It fed on marine and aquatic creatures, which made it a necessity for it to have speed. It had a streamlined body that also assisted in swimming well.

How much did an Ichthyosaurus weigh?

The Ichthyosaurus weight, based on the classification of the specimen collected, is estimated to have weighed around 200.6 lb (91 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

Female and male Ichthyosaurus dinosaurs are not given any different names.

What would you call a baby Ichthyosaurus?

Since the Ichthyosaurus reproduced by giving birth, they are simply referred to as live young ones.

What did they eat?

Ichthyosaurus' were mainly carnivores, or more precisely, piscivores. They fed on small fish, squids, and other sea and aquatic creatures. They breathed air but lacked gills. They could not survive on land due to their body adaptation as well as dietary preferences.

How aggressive were they?

They were quite fast and aggressive when compared to other reptiles. Their dietary needs and survival in the oceans led them to be quite fierce in combat.

Did you know...

The ancestor of the Ichthyosaurus group is believed to have been terrestrial. They were even believed to be oviparous and breathe air on land.

The later ones adapted to survive in the ocean and another marine environment, but the earlier belief that they laid eggs was contradicted even for the ancestors. Female fossils show young ones in the tail canal and this finally helped scientists understand the preserved young ones.

They were also later discovered to be pelagic, meaning they didn't come to the land at all. The lack of gills, the front like the dolphin, and the streamlined structure helped them survive completely in ocean waters.

Where was the Ichthyosaurus found?

Ichthyosaurus anningae specimens were first found in the early '80s in Dorset, England. This reptile is named after Anning.

The fossil was then acquired by the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery and was first described in the modern age in 2015. Initially, the article was misidentified as a plaster cast. Dean Lomax and Judy Massare in 2008 established the article as a different species altogether.

Are dolphins related to Ichthyosaurus?

‬The streamlined structure and the head with a small snout looked like a dolphin superficially, however they are not related to it. The dolphin is supposed to be a mammal, while the Ichthyosaurus was unmistakenly a reptile. It was also not related to the Ichthyosaurus dinosaur as previously thought due to its contemporaries.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other dinosaurs from our Arizonasaurus interesting facts and Cymbospondylus surprising facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable water dinosaur coloring pages.

Second image by Ballista

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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