"Getting a Meal
Some marine predators had needlelike teeth that pierced and held on to slippery prey like fishes or soft-bodied invertebrates. Others, such as Stenopterygius and Steneosaurus, had thicker, conical teeth to crush struggling prey.

The Shapes of Fast Swimmers
Although many ichthyosaurs resembled sharks and dolphins, they were actually reptiles. Thanks to convergent evolution, these unrelated animals evolved similar bodies because the demands of living underwater favored those shapes over others. Stiff, smooth bodies, tall dorsal fins, and strong tails allowed them all to be fast-swimming predators."


  • Title: Ichthyosaur, marine reptile
  • Location: Posidonienschiefer Formation, Germany
  • Physical Dimensions: L: 305 cm W: 92 cm D: 13 cm
  • Type: Fossil
  • Rights: This image was obtained from the Smithsonian Institution. The image or its contents may be protected by international copyright laws. http://www.si.edu/termsofuse
  • External Link: View this object record in the Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center
  • Weight: 226.8 kg
  • USNM Catalog Number(s): V2409
  • Scientific Name: <i>Stenopterygius quadriscissus</i>
  • Photo Credit: James Di Loreto, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History
  • Historic Period: Lived 183–180 million years ago
  • Geologic Age: Mesozoic - Jurassic - Lower/early
  • Field: Paleobiology

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