ICHTHYOSAUR DINOSAUR FOSSIL ICHTHYOSAURUS PIRATE GOLD COINS JURASSIC TREASURE
Pirate Gold Coins Treasures of the Jurassic is proud to present this authentic Ichthyosaur Fossil! 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 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 epoch, 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 Late 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 Early Cretaceous, though previous views of ichthyosaur decline during this period are probably overstated. Ichthyosaurs diversity declined due to environmental volatility caused by climatic upheavals in the early Late Cretaceous, becoming extinct at the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary. 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. Ichthyosaur species varied from 1 to 16 metres (3 to 52 ft) in length. Ichthyosaurs resembled both modern fish and dolphins. Their limbs had been fully transformed into flippers, which sometimes contained a very large number of digits and phalanges. At least some species possessed a dorsal fin. Their heads were pointed, and the jaws often were equipped with conical teeth that could help to catch smaller prey. Some species had larger, bladed teeth with which they could attack large animals. The eyes were very large, probably useful when deep diving. The neck was short, and later species had a rather stiff trunk. These also had a more vertical tail fin, used for a powerful propulsive stroke. The vertebral column, made of simplified disc-like vertebrae, continued into the lower lobe of the tail fin. Ichthyosaurs were air-breathing, warm-blooded, and bore live young. They may have had a layer of blubber for insulation.