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Fossil stories

3D model of Ichthyosaurus acutirostris


This incredibly complete fossil jaw of an Ichthyosaurus specimen dates from the Lower Jurassic, 201-180 million years ago. It shows the beautifully preserved shape of the lizard's spear like jaws. If you look closely you can see disarticulated paddle bones, teeth and ammonite fossils.

Using the 3D model, you can see the amazingly preserved detail on the bone, including small pits on the upper jaw which may have been used to help detect prey. The conical teeth are also excellently preserved, and in part of the model you can see a slice of the tooth revealing the inner structure. These teeth were designed to crush shells and hold on to prey as the giant lizards hunted. They appear to be excellently adapted to crushing the shells off ammonites and grasping the bodies of fish; two known prey items on the ichthyosaurs diet. During the time this Ichthyosaur hunted Northamptonshire would have been beneath the ocean and rich in marine life. Evidence for this can still be found in certain parts of the county where ammonites and bivalves are common finds.

Where to view it

The real specimen is on display in Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

Museum history display