Historic English Marine Reptile
Lyme Regis, Dorset, England
An Ichthyosaurus was the first complete fossil to be discovered, in the early 19th century, by Mary Anning in England. Filling a similar ecological niche as the modern dolphin, this extinct genus displayed a dolphin-like bodyline, as illustrated by the present 195-million-year-old specimen. Though initially thought to lay eggs on land, fossil evidence shows that these marine reptiles gave birth to live young.
The present specimen, complete and without restoration, was excavated in the 1930's and was part of an English public school collection for many years. It was recently re-prepared by a former chief preparator of the British Natural History Museum, London. Detail work on the jaws and front paddle are particularly fine in this beautifully articulated specimen.
The contribution of early discoveries of complete fossils, such as Mary Anning's ichthyosaur, encouraged public acceptance of the theory of evolution. And popular imagination regarding prehistoric sea creatures was subsequently ignited by works such as Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth, in which an ichthyosaur, greatly exaggerated in size, fights a winning battle with a plesiosaur.
Measures 32 x 19.5in; specimen measures 28.5in