Lower Lias, Jurassic,
Dorset or Somerset.
Ichthyosaurs first appeared in the Triassic period and disappeared during the Cretaceous. The name means “Fish-Lizard” due to its shape being very fishlike, whilst in fact being a marine reptile. They swam in the sea, breathing air through nostrils and gave birth to live young rather than laying eggs. Ichthyosaurus communis grew up to about 6’ in length (approx 183cm).
This specimen is from the Jurassic, about 200million years old, and is from the Dorset or Somerset coast, purchased by the current owner in about 1985.
Although there appears to be an overbite of the upper jaw, this could be explained by a possible displacement of the lower jaw. The Ichthyosaur measures 4’2” (127cm) from nose to tail. Bearing in mind the tail fin vertebrae are not present, this is probably an adult.
The creature was probably fossilized in pyritic concretions in shale, rather than a solid nodule. Some of the original matrix is present. The majority of the bones are genuine , although there are also a number of replacement replica bones especially in the area of the ribcage.
There are also fossils of other small creatures in the matrix which could either be an indication of the beasts last meal, or may have washed in as the skeleton decomposed.
The following diagram shows the position of the replacement replica bones. They are outlined.
The specimen is mounted in a plaster of paris mount which is fixed to a wooden board and framed.
The Ichthyosaur was purchased almost 30 years ago and hung above a radiator, which in recent years had led to some damage of the plaster mount and some cracks had appeared. It was necessary to consolidate the damaged areas to reinforce the specimen and also to enhance it. This work has been carried out by professional preparators. Any loose bones have been reattached, the cracks have been filled and the plaster mount has been repainted to show the specimen at its best.
Before and after restoration.
The Ichthyosaur has since found a new home in a private museum back down South.