Cymbospondylus was an ichthyosaur of the Triassic Period.


Cymbospondylus was a large ichthyosaur, reaching lengths of 6 to 10 meters.[1] It had no dorsal fin, much like Shonisaurus. Its flukeless tail made up half its body length and was used for swimming.[2]


Cymbospondylus was originally considered to be a shastasaurid, but recent studies have found it to be a more basal ichthyosaur.[3] There are eight known species in the genus.


Cymbospondylus was first described in 1868 by Joseph Leidy. However, it wasn't until the early 1900s that a complete skeleton was found. Fossils have been found in both in Germany and in the US state of Nevada.


Cymbospondylus was a carnivore. Despite its fearsome appearance, Cymbospondylus would not have eaten larger animals. Its teeth were too small for this type of diet. Instead, it probably fed on fish, belemnites, and ammonites.

In popular cultureEdit

Cymbospondylus featured in Sea Monsters: A Walking with Dinosaurs Trilogy, where it was shown feeding on large prey unlike in real life.[4]


  1. "Cymbospondylus". BBC - Science & Nature. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  2. Palmer, D., ed (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 78. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.
  3. Motani, R. 1999: Phylogeny of the Ichthyopterygia. Journal Of Vertebrate Paleontology. 19 (3): 473 - 496
  4. Haines, Tim and Paul Chambers. 2006: The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life. Pg. 65. Richmond Hill, Firefly Books Ltd.