3.7" Fossil Belemnites (Paxillosus) With Icthyosaur Vert - Germany

This is a 3.7" wide mortality plate of fossil Belemnites of the species Belemnites paxillosus, that are Jurassic in age and were collected from Mistelgau, Germany. The largest specimen on this plate is about 1.8" long. There is an Ichthyosaur vertebra mixed in with the Belemnites.

Comes with an acrylic display stand.

Belemnites are probably the most well known extinct cephalopod after the ammonites. They lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods and are fairly common fossils found throughout the world. They had a hard, internal, cone shaped structure that is often preserved as a fossil though it is not technically a shell. They had 10 arms but unlike modern squid these arms had small hooks instead of suckers.

A fossil of Ichthyosaur Stenopterygius.  Creative Commons License
A fossil of Ichthyosaur Stenopterygius. Creative Commons License

Ichthyosaurs were swordfish-like marine reptiles of the Order Ichthyosauria. They had torpedo shaped bodies with long narrowly pointed jaws, large pectoral fins and crescent shaped tails. They were the high speed predators of the Jurassic seas, indicating they ate a fish diet. This is confirmed by analysis of coprolites (fossil feces). They evolved about 250 million years ago but did not hit they diversity apex until the Jurassic. There are currently 97 known Genera (plural Genus). It is thought that they are descended from diapsids like dinosaurs and birds, but a recent theory suggest they may have descended from a distant relative of turtles. Ichthyosaurus had disappeared from the fossil record by about 90 million years ago. It is not known why they died out.

Ichthyosaurs are not fish. Their resemblance to them is an example two groups adapting to their environment with similar adaptations without having a common ancestor. This is called convergent evolution. Ichthyosaurs are reptiles with lungs that had to surface to breath. Fish have gills that take dissolved oxygen from water. Ichthyosaurs looked like swordfish or dolphins. Their bodies were larger near the head and tapered to a sleek crescent shaped tail. Ichthyosaurs had one of the largest eyes relative to body size of any organism. It is presumed that this allowed them to move throughout the water column to find prey. The crescent tail allowed them to reach tremendous speed in the water. Some estimates put the top speed of the fastest species above 30 mph. Like most fish living today, it is thought that Ichthyosaurus was dark colored on its back and sides and light on its belly.

Belemnites paxillosus
Mistelgau, Germany
1.8" Largest Belemnite. Entire specimen 3.7 x 3.1.
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