Ichthyosaurs are amongst the most spectacular fossils from the Cretaceous rocks of the Great Artesian Basin in western Queensland.
Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles which lived in the inland sea which flooded central and western Queensland between 110 and 98 Million years ago. Most fossil ichthyosaurs found in Queensland have come from rocks which are between 100-98 Million years old. This was a period of time right at the end of the ichthyosaur lineage. They went extinct soon after.
Skull and part skeleton of ichthyosaur from north Queensland
All ichthyosaurs found within the Great Artesian Basin belong to the genus Platypterygius (broad-finned ichthyosaur). They were large, up to seven metres long, and had four broad flippers and a powerful, vertically positioned tail. Since they were reptiles, they had to regularly surface to breathe. They had a large skull and jaws, which held rows of dozens of cone-shaped teeth. It is thought they lived on squid and fishes. From their streamlined body it is clear that ichthyosaurs were capable of great speed in the water.
Ichthyosaurs gave birth to live young, which were very large for the body size of the mother. There are many specimens of ichthyosaurs known which had died giving birth. One such specimen comes from Boulia, western Queensland.
More information on ichthyosaurs and other marine reptiles can be found on our cretaceous marine reptiles fact sheet. (633 KB)
Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.