|“||It's a Cymbospondylus; one of the great group of marine reptiles: the Icthyosaurs. He's a primitive member of the group.||„|
|— Allen, on Cymbospondylus|
Cymbospondylus (name meaning "Boat Spine") is a genus of large, primitive ichthyosaur that originated during the Triassic period. Measuring over 9 meters in length and 4 tons in weight, it was the top predator of its time and one of the largest and most primitive of the group. It belonged to the Shastasauridae, Triassic period Ichthyosaurs much more massive than later Jurassic and Cretaceous Period Ichthyosaurs (which evolved from smaller and rarer Ichthyosaurs of lesser, minor ecological standing as it were in the Early Triassic).
Era & DiscoveryEdit
Cymbospondylus lived in the prehistoric seas of the Triassic period, 240–210 million years ago. It was the largest and apex predator of its region.
Found in both Germany and Nevada, Cymbospondylus was named by Joseph Leidy in 1868. However, it wasn't until the early 1900s that the first complete skeletons were discovered.
Cymbospondylus was large for a primitive Ichthyosaur, measuring over around 30–35 feet (9–10 m) in length and weighing more than 4 tons (8,000 lbs.), making it by far the largest predator of the seas in the Triassic Era.
Cymbospondylus had a long, eel-like body, very different from the more compact and dolphin-like shapes of the later species. It had a pair of long, narrow jaws lined with small albeit sharp teeth. Like its descendants, Cymbospondylus had a large tail, but it was less specialized than Ophthalmosaurus tail was, as it had just a single fluke. Therefore, Cymbospondylus was at times a relatively slow swimmer, but was nevertheless capable of sudden bursts of speed with just one movement of their tails.
Behavior & TraitsEdit
Cymbospondylus was a solitary hunter, only getting together during mating season. Despite its immense size and rather formidable appearance, the teeth of Cymbospondylus were small and fragile for a creature of their size. As a result, it mainly hunted small and soft-bodied creatures. However, it would sometimes eat long and slender objects, such as disconnected Tanystropheus tails.
Its main method of hunting was to circle its prey and to make mock lunges. This would unnerve its prey. Once its prey is off-guard, the Cymbospondylus would deliver the finishing blow.