Fun Ophthalmosaurus Facts Facts For Kids

Iram Ashfaq
Feb 20, 2024 By Iram Ashfaq
Originally Published on Sep 24, 2021
Edited by Kidadl Team
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Learn the most enthralling 21 Ophthalmosaurus facts for kids and family.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.5 Min

During the Jurassic Period, the Ophthalmosaurus natans was a type of Ichthyosaur that lived in oceans near North America. With large eyes and fins on its back, it resembled an enormous tuna or dolphin with flippers like paddles instead of legs to propel forward through the water. It's thought by scientists that they were very active predators who would attack other marine animals including ammonites but also squid as well as fish such as belemnite which had bullet-shaped shells similar to modern cuttlefish called nautiloids. The Ophthalmosaurus icenicus is an Ichthyosaur that lived about 180 million years ago during the Jurassic period. These marine reptiles were able to navigate through water using their eyes that had a retina six times more sensitive than human beings' vision! These creatures were powerful swimmers that used their flippers to dive much like modern whales do today! They also hunted squid by sucking them into their huge jaws before swallowing them whole - yum! Its fossils have been found all over Europe including Germany, England, France, and Switzerland. Its name comes from the long dolphin-shaped body and size of its eyes which were so large that they took up much of its skull! The Ophthalmosaurus name means 'eye lizard', which refers to its large eyes on top of its head. Olfactory senses were also well developed as they hunted for fish living near dense clumps of eelgrass or seaweed beds on what used to be an extensive area of the shallow continental shelf at one time when Europe consisted mostly of islands just off shorelines. What did these dinosaurs of the group Ophthalmosaurus eat? They enjoyed a piscivore diet. Today many specimens are known including some complete articulated skeletons preserved in museums!

Find more relatable, exciting content about the Hesperosaurus and the Incisivosaurus for kids!

Ophthalmosaurus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Ophthalmosaurus'?

This is how we believe it's pronounced: "Oh-fthalm-ohsore-us".

What type of dinosaur was an Ophthalmosaurus?

It was an Ichthyosaur. This extremely large marine reptile prey species lived during the Jurassic period and had a very distinct, almost porpoise-like shape with its long snout and sleek body that helped it swim and escape through ancient oceans!

In which geological period did the Ophthalmosaurus roam the Earth?

The Ophthalmosaurus natans was an extremely large dinosaur that was closely related to the marine reptile with a small fin that lived during the late Jurassic period.

When did the Ophthalmosaurus become extinct?

The Ophthalmosaurus species of the group Ophthalmosauridae became extinct around the end of the late Jurassic time around 145 million years ago.

Where did an Ophthalmosaurus live?

The Ophthalmosaurus, especially O. chrisorum, lived in the ocean and was closely related to the ichthyosaur. It had four flippers with sclerotic rings between its digits to help it move faster through water than on land or in the air.

What was an Ophthalmosaurus's habitat?

These Ophthalmosaurus dinosaurs lived in a shallow, warm sea that was relatively free of predators on its discovery. This genus had to be careful with their eyes though as they were exposed and vulnerable on the surface of the water without any protection beyond its surroundings.

Who did an Ophthalmosaurus live with?

An Ophthalmosaurus species of the group Ophthalmosauridae lived during the late Jurassic era in America and Russia in history. They were likely social creatures that swam in groups of about 10-20 individuals.

How long did an Ophthalmosaurus live?

If you were an Ophthalmosaurid, your valid lifespan range would be around 20-30 years on this Earth as skeletons suggest after major valid research by Harry and Seeley. It would be neat to have a chance to explore the space of this dinosaur's lifestyle and see it in all its glory during that prehistoric time.

How did they reproduce?

Females of this Opthalmosaurus chrisorum would lay eggs after mating, which is an ancient form of reproduction in history still seen in many animals today including birds, reptiles, and fish.

Ophthalmosaurus Fun Facts

What did an Ophthalmosaurus look like?

The Ophthalmosaurid (Apatodontosaurus ancanamunia) was determined to be a plesiosaur after its discovery and after some valid research on its lifestyle in its space by Maisch and Seeley. It had four light flippers, which is why some people think it is related to Ichthyosaurs rather than Mosasaurs or prehistoric sharks. The Ophthalmosaurus also seems different from other plesiosaurs because its neck was longer and more flexible, meaning that it could swim in any direction without turning its head around as most marine creatures did. The Ophthalmosaurus in history looked like a dolphin with little wings, but its closest living relative is actually the sea turtle. Instead of teeth, it had bony blades in place for cropping fish and squid which were swallowed whole by using two powerful retractor muscles extending from the jaw to the stomach. This dinosaur also had smaller nasal openings on the top middle head above the snout making breathing easy while underwater due to nostrils being located higher towards the back.

This young graceful dinosaur swam at a great speed due to its long tail and healthy diet as the fossil and research suggest.

How many bones did an Ophthalmosaurus have?

The graceful Ophthalmosaurid genus had around 200 bones in its body. The fossil was an Ichthyosaur that lived during the Mesozoic Era, 250 million years ago. Their bones were very strong and sharp, making them ideal for stabbing prey.

How did they communicate?

It has been hypothesized by some paleontologists who have studied young Ophthalmosaurus fossils found that small bones within its nasal chambers and sinuses (cavities) suggest possible evidence about how these prehistoric sea creatures communicated. They possibly produced a sound like today’s cetaceans do when communicating over long distances while submerged underwater too deep for visual communication between individuals.

How big was an Ophthalmosaurus?

The size of the Ophthalmosaurus (Apatodontosaurus ancanamunia) as seen in the fossil was moderate. The Ophthalmosaurus, also known as the “eye lizard” for its large eyes placed on top of its head like binoculars, was 13-20 ft (4-6.1 m) in length. The Ophthalmosaurus had big eyes, which suggests there existed Ophthalmosaurus accurate vision for hunting prey such as fish or squid while floating at mid-depths because it could not dive deep due to poor swimming ability.

How fast could an Ophthalmosaurus move?

Surrounded by the thick, murky seawater of prehistoric oceans, the Ophthalmosaurus had to move quickly in order to survive. The estimated speed for this creature is 10 mph (16.1 kph), which was pretty good compared with other animals at that time!

How much did an Ophthalmosaurus weigh?

The Ophthalmosaurus weighed 2 tons (1,814.4 kg), which was twice the weight of its largest known relative when compared with the Ophthalmosaurus size. The Ophthalmosaurus weight gave the animal agility and smoothness to swim and escape with ease in the middle ocean and beyond.

What were the male and female names of the species?

Males and females of this species are referred to as Ophthalmosaurus dinosaurs. Male and female ophthalmosauruses (a type of ichthyosaur) are called such because they both lived underwater like modern-day dolphins or sharks. They look a lot alike; only size really differentiates them. It was most likely the male who chased after prey while he allowed her to stay behind until she caught something for him to eat.

What would you call a baby Ophthalmosaurus?

Their offspring are known as Opthalmosaurus pups or one of the synonyms, Periallus pups. Ophthalmosaurus pups, with their huge and adorable eyes, were cute. These pups attracted a lot of attention through those big baby blues.

What did they eat?

The enormous ichthyosaurs known as the Ophthalmosaurus were fearsome predators of Jurassic seas which preyed on smaller surface marine animals including fish, lizards, or even other dolphin-like creatures called plesiosaurs.

How aggressive were they?

The Ophthalmosaurinae (with one of its synonyms, Periallus) a genus of Ichthyosaurs, was slightly aggressive as it fought over mating rights with other males to reproduce more often than not. However, these reptiles lived in harmony if one was able to find enough food or territory; it's all about the balance of power! Check out the BBC Ophthalmosaurus documentary for more information.

Did you know...

The Ophthalmosaurinae was a genus of Ichthyosaur with a dolphin-shaped body that lived 145 million years ago. The Ophthalmosaurus adapted to its environment by having large eyes and flat flippers, which enabled it to live in deep water without worrying about sinking or floating up.

Ophthalmosaurus vs Ichthyosaurus! Despite the fact that the Ichthyosaurus was a lot bigger than the Ophthalmosaurus, it had a higher pitch when it spoke. This is because Ichthyosaurs lived in water and were able to use vibrations better there.

How did the Ophthalmosaurus adapt to its environment?

The Ophthalmosaurus, a genus of Ichthyosaurs, had a strong, powerful tail that was used to propel its body forward as it swam. This allowed the animal to move more easily through water bodies and hunt for prey without being impeded by currents or turbulence along its path of travel. The creature also possessed eyes with lenses on each side which provided better depth perception than that of other marine reptiles at the time; this adaptation made hunting easier in murky waters.

Why did the Ophthalmosaurus go extinct?

It is believed the Ophthalmosaurus went extinct because it couldn't adapt to a changing environment.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Atrociraptor facts or Pawpawsaurus facts for kids.

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

Main image by Nobu Tamura

Second image by Ghedoghedo

Fun Ophthalmosaurus Facts Facts For Kids

How Much Did They Weigh?

2 tons (1814.4 kg)

Skin Type


How Long Were They?

13-20 ft (4-6.1 m)

How Tall Were They?










Scientific Name

Ophthalmosaurus icenicus

What Were Their Main Threats?

Natural disasters
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Written by Iram Ashfaq

Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Master of Public Health

Iram Ashfaq picture

Iram AshfaqBachelor of Dental Surgery, Master of Public Health

With a Bachelor's degree in Dental Surgery from Shaney Institute of Health Sciences and a Master's degree in Public Health from Imperial College London, Iram is a highly qualified and accomplished writer from Srinagar, India. Over the course of a year, she has acquired multiple writing certifications, focusing on health sciences and research studies. Prior to joining Kidadl, Iram gained valuable experience working as a content writer for Indian firms and interning at a New York-based company. Her expertise and passion for writing shine through in her ability to create compelling content across a variety of topics.

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