Ichthyosaurus Stenopterygius quadricissus (Fossil size: 150 cm; Plaque size: 200 x 100 x 3 cm), early Jurassic (approx 180 million years ago).
A superb marine reptile, appearing on a background of black slate from the famous Holzmaden quarries. The first person to uncover a full Ichthyosaur skeleton was Mary Anning, in Lyme Regis, England in 1910. Ichthyosaurs lived in groups, evolving in the open sea, feeding off of fish and cephalopods, like modern day dolphins, whose ecological niche they inhabited. Hundreds of hours were spent delicately removing the rock from the fossilized bones of this ichthyosaur in order to re-expose them to the light of day. The animal was found in a dynamic position, opening its mouth to catch its prey. The skull shows the eye socket, and the shape of the body is clearly outlined in the matrix in order to show the superficial similarities to modern day dolphins.