Named By: Joseph Leidy - 1868.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Diapsida, Ichthyopterygia, Ichthyosauria.
Species: C. piscosus (type), C. buchseri, C. grandis, C. germanicus, C. natans, C. nevadanus, C. parvus, C. petrinus.
Size: Between 6 and 10 meters long.
Known locations: USA, Nevada. Germany.
Time period: Anisian to Norian of the Triassic.
Fossil representation: Many specimens.
only was Cymbospondylus one of earliest
named, it was
also one of the first to swim in the Triassic oceans. Cymbospondylus
is an example of the primitive ichthyosaurs that were yet to evolve
dorsal fins and developed tail flukes which left it with a long body,
which was tail. The jaws of Cymbospondylus were
filled with teeth
that were actually very small when compared to some other early
ichthyosaurs, something that suggests that despite its large size
Cymbospondylus would have relied more upon smaller
and softer prey like
fish and cephalopods such as squid.
There has been some contention as to whether Cymbospondylus is an ichthyosaur or not because of the lack of a dorsal fin and a tail fluke. However this is not all that different to other early ichthyosaurs such as Utatsusaurus, the earliest known ichthyosaur which does not have any of these features either. Cymbospondylus also bears a resemblance to the later Shastasaurus that lived towards the end of the Triassic, a particularly large ichthyosaur that had toothless jaws.
- Notice of some reptilian remains from Nevada. - Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 109:177-178 - J. Leidy - 1868.
- The large ichthyosaur Cymbospondylus buchseri, sp. nov. from the Middle Triassic of Monte San Giorgio (Switzerland), with a survey of the genus in Europe - Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 9(2):163-173 - P. M. Sander - 1989.