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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Ichthyosaur skull

Ichthyosaur skull
Picture 3 of 6

This enormous skull is over 1.7 m long! It is a Temnodontosaur, one of the largest species of ichthyosaurs found here at Charmouth and would have been around 9 m long. It was found by Tony Gill in 2000 and is on display in the Charmouth Fossil Shop that Tony owns. His fossil shop is underneath the Heritage Centre.

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