Ichthyosaurs

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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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Jaws

Jaws
Picture 6 of 6

This is a portion of an ichthyosaur jaw showing all the interlocking teeth. Ichthyosaur’s constantly replace their teeth during their lifetime, so in theory there should be lots of fossil ichthyosaur teeth to find. However, fossil teeth at Charmouth are rare because they are very brittle and often crumble away when washed around with beach pebbles by the sea.

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