Ichthyosaurs of the Toolebuc Formation

The ichthyosaurs of the Toolebuc Formation are represented by a single species. Platypterygius australis, which grew to more than five metres.

By Queensland Museum Network

Platypterygius australis Platypterygius australis (1932) by Peter Waddington, Queensland MuseumQueensland Museum Network

Platypterygius had a streamlined body to reduce drag, and, like most ichthyosaurs, it had enormous eyes, among the largest recorded for any animal.

Platypterygius australis Platypterygius australis (1932) by Peter Waddington, Queensland MuseumQueensland Museum Network

The size of its eye suggests Platypterygius relied on sight to hunt its prey. Bony, sclerotic plate around each eye may have prevented them from being distorted by water pressure when the animal was diving.

Platypterygius australis Platypterygius australis (1932) by Peter Waddington, Queensland MuseumQueensland Museum Network

The genus Platypterygius is the last record of ichthyosaurs worldwide. The youngest known specimen from Australia, which are dated at about 90 million years, come from mudstones near Darwin in the Northern Territory. Ichthyosaurs had already diminished in number by the start of Early Cretaceous, but their extinction may have been hastened by changing global sea levels and reduced genetic variety.

Platypterygius australis Platypterygius australis (1932) by Peter Waddington, Queensland MuseumQueensland Museum Network

Platypterygius australis Platypterygius australis (1932) by Peter Waddington, Queensland MuseumQueensland Museum Network

Platypterygius australis Platypterygius australis (1932) by Peter Waddington, Queensland MuseumQueensland Museum Network

Platypterygius australis Platypterygius australis (1932) by Peter Waddington, Queensland MuseumQueensland Museum Network

Credits: Story

Images and text from: In Search of Ancient Queensland.
Principle Authors: Dr Alex Cook and Dr Andrew Rozefelds.
Published by the Queensland Museum, 2015.
Photographer: Peter Waddington

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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