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Pronounced – Ik-thee-oh-saw
Meaning of name – ‘Fish-lizard’
Group – Reptile
Age – Lower Jurassic, around 195 million years old

Ichthyosaurs are a type of extinct marine reptile which had streamlined bodies. On appearance they resemble sharks and dolphins but these creatures are not directly related to each other. They look similar because they are all adapted to being fast swimming predators who have streamlined bodies. Ichthyosaurs were so well adapted for life in the sea that they gave birth to live young. The largest ichthyosaurs found around Charmouth are around 10 metres long.

Victorian fossil hunting pioneer Mary Anning discovered the first ichthyosaur skeleton on the beach between Charmouth and Lyme Regis when she was just 12 years old.

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Partial ichthyosaur

Partial ichthyosaur
Picture 5 of 6

This ichthyosaur was found by local fossil collector David Sole. This specimen has been expertly prepared using acetic acid to dissolve away the encasing rock around the fossil. All the bones are in the same position as when the reptile died and are uncrushed. Scale = 10mm. David Sole ©.

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