The One that Got Away – In Search of a “Fish Lizard”

Ichthyosaurs or to be more precise, Ichthyosauria were an Order of marine reptiles that evolved in the Triassic and become extinct towards the end of the Cretaceous Period, approximately 80 million years ago.  These animals superficially resembled dolphins and many of these predatory marine reptiles were fast swimmers.  Of all the reptile groups that returned to a marine environment to live, the ichthyosaurs became the most highly adapted, losing their ability to move around on land.

An Illustration of a Typical Ichthyosaur

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

These marine creatures are very popular with young palaeontologists; and staff at Everything Dinosaur get asked lots of questions about them.  However, it is rare for us to have to go on an Ichthyosaurus hunt in our warehouse – on the north Yorkshire coast, or in Dorset,  yes, but in our own warehouse this is a rare event indeed.


The Ichthyosaurus hunt started when we were contacted by a customer, who had purchased a tube of marine reptiles from us.  The set contained ten prehistoric animal models, unfortunately, not an Ichthyosaurus model, one of the items that the young dinosaur fan who was to receive this gift item particularly wanted.

The set they had purchased contained a duplicate of the Middle Jurassic monster – Metriorhynchus.  This reptile was an ancient crocodile that had adapted to a marine environment, distantly related to modern crocodiles, these sea creatures were hunters of fish, ammonites and perhaps even snatched the occasional unwary pterosaur from out of the air, as these flying reptiles glided over the sea looking for a fish to snap up in their jaws.

An Image of the Safari Ltd Sealife Prehistoric Animal Toob

Ten prehistoric marine animals make up the set.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Unfortunately, the Metriorhynchus was no ichthyosaur and the customer contacted us so as to return the duplicate model and to request a replacement Ichthyosaurus be sent out to her eager young palaeontologist.

Hunting for an Ichthyosaurus

And so the hunt commenced, all our staff ended up being involved – opening the boxes and checking the contents of each set to see if other duplicates were in any of the packs and whether an Ichthyosaurus could be found.  It took a while but eventually an Ichthyosaurus model was located and our dedicated staff got it ready to be sent on its way to be reunited with the rest of the models in the Safari Prehistoric Sealife set.

The Missing Ichthyosaurus Model (close up)

The “missing” Ichthyosaurus model.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Incidentally, before the Ichthyosaurus was despatched, we sent a picture of it to the customer.  This was done so that we could get confirmation that we had indeed found a suitable replacement.  We think we know what an Ichthyosaurus looks like, the customer may know what an Ichthyosaurus looks like, but in these situations it is always best to check.

After-all, if such a distinguished naturalist and broadcaster as Sir David Attenborough can confuse plesiosaurs with ichthyosaurs as he did in a recent radio programme when discussing the Loch Ness Monster, it is better to be safe than sorry.

The Ichthyosaurus model is part of a set of marine prehistoric animals in the Safari Ltd range.

To view this range: Safari Ltd, Wild Safari Prehistoric World Models.

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