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Stenopterygius
Fossil range: Early to Mid Jurassic
Dinos Stenopterygius
Stenopterygius skeleton on display at the old Dinosaur Gallery at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.
Scientific classification

Order:

Ichthyosauria

Family:

Stenopterygiidae

Genus:

Stenopterygius

Species:

  • S. quadriscissus (Von Quenstadt, 1858) Jaekel, 1904 (type)
  • S. longifrons (Owen, 1881) Von Huene, 1939
  • S. megalorhius Von Huene, 1922
  • S. hauffianus Von Huene, 1922

Stenopterygius is an extinct genus of ichthyosaur from the Early to Middle Jurassic (Toarcian - Aalenian) from Europe (England, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg). Maximum length was 4 m.

DescriptionEdit

Stenopterygius was physically similar to the better known Ichthyosaurus, but had a smaller skull and narrower flippers. Beautifully preserved fossils of Stenopterygius have been found in Germany.[5] Its skull was extended into a kind of a beak and was armed with a quantity of large teeth. The limbs had been transformed to fin-like structures. The tail terminated in a large, semicircular, leathery, vertical caudal fin and even a triangular dorsal fin was present.

PaleobiologyEdit

Stenopterygius BW

Stenopterygius quadriscissus from the Early Jurassic of Germany

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Stenopterygiusscale

Stenopterygius with a human to scale.

Stenopterygius was physically similar to the better known Ichthyosaurus, but had a smaller skull and narrower flippers. Beautifully preserved fossils of Stenopterygius have been found in Germany. Its skull was extended into a kind of a beak and was armed with a quantity of large teeth. The limbs had been transformed to fin-like structures. The tail terminated in a large, semicircular, leathery, vertical caudal fin and even a triangular dorsal fin was present.

The habits of Stenopterygius were similar to those of present-day dolphins. It spent most of its life in the open sea, where it hunted fish, cephalopods and other animals. The abdominal cavity of skeletons of this ichthyosaur often contains the remains of such food.

One famous fossil is that of a mother and baby that died in childbirth (ichthyosaurs were viviparous). This proved that ichthyosaur infants were born tail-first, just like cetaceans, to prevent them from drowning before fully clearing the birth canal.

ClassificationEdit

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