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Presented specimens are fossils with separately preserved three teeth of Ichthyosaurus, dating back to the Upper Jurassic period, namely from —163 to —145 million years ago.

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Ichthyosaurus (Ichthyosauria) is a representative species of marine reptiles which appeared in the early triassic and became extinct in turoni, 90 million years ago. Its name comes from the Greek words: ichtio, which mean fish, and sauros — lizard. Ichthyosaurs had a toothed mouth, where in one mandible, their number could reach even two hundred. The teeth were located in one row, they looked the same — long, slender and slightly recurved.
Presented specimens are fossils with separately preserved three teeth of Ichthyosaurus, dating back to the upper jurassic period, namely from —163 to —145 million years ago.

Elaborated by the editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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Ichthyosaurs

Ichthyosaurs, known otherwise as fish lizards, reigned supreme in the waters of the oceans for 155 million years. No other tetrapod (with the exception of cetaceans) staged a return to the aquatic environment in such style. However, to this day we do not know where ichthyosaurs came from and why they became extinct so long before the dinosaurs...

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Ichthyosaurs, known otherwise as fish lizards, reigned supreme in the waters of the oceans for 155 million years. No other tetrapod (with the exception of cetaceans) staged a return to the aquatic environment in such style. However, to this day we do not know where ichthyosaurs came from and why they became extinct so long before the dinosaurs.
The first species was correctly recognized as a marine reptile and received the name Ichthyosaurus communis (i.e. “common fish lizard”). Mary Anning, a young fossil collector came across its skeleton in 1811. The incident occurred in Lyme Regis Bay in southern England. Numerous remains of the inhabitants of the early Jurassic sea can be found in the local cliffs to this day. The name “ichthyosaurus” itself was used in 1821, which is two decades earlier than the word “dinosaur”.
These wonderful reptiles occurred in an entire range of sizes. The smallest individuals reached several dozen centimetres in length, and the largest ones – over 15 meters! There were even ichthyosaurs that reached sizes of up to 18 meters, and their skulls were 3 meters in length. A typical genus is the well-known Jurassic Ichthyosaurus from which the name of the group has derived. It had a streamlined body in which the head smoothly merged into the torso and paddle limbs used for control. Its main means of propulsion were lateral flexions of the body and tail, which ended with a vertical fin. The final section of the spine (consisting of disc-shaped vertebrae) was directed downwards and simultaneously penetrated the lower part of the caudal fin, whereas the upper lobe did not have a skeletal bone. The ichthyosaur had a very elongated skull, and the jaws were armed with numerous, sharp teeth. The overall impression was like a threatening, drawn „muzzle”. The eyes of ichthyosaurs were very large and the nostrils moved far back to the rear, which was another adaptation of this reptile to the aquatic environment.
Ichthyosaurs were adapted to life in the water to such a degree that they probably never went on land. When they were accidentally cast ashore, they moved as clumsily as whales do today. Because they were not able to lay their eggs on the shore, they reproduced under water. We have even managed to find several skeletons of adult individuals along with skeletons of immature foetuses inside. Thanks to the remains of females that died during delivery, we know that young ichthyosaurs were born tail forward.
The origin of ichthyosaurs is still not entirely clear. These reptiles  appear suddenly, fully formed, in the fossil record. Earlier, the representatives of the Mesozoic species were already characterized by the majority of specialized features that defined this group. Further evolution consisted in specific adaptations to various modes of life – for example, some forms fed on molluscs and thus developed flattened teeth to crush their shells. Others had a short mandible, and the upper jaw was elongated forming a characteristic „sword” just like in swordfish.
The end of the ichthyosaur line appears remarkably mysterious too. In the Triassic they multiplied in number at a dizzying pace, in the early Jurassic they were characterized by a huge variety, after which came their slow decline. Only one species remained during the Cretaceous – Platypterygius – which died out more or less 90 million years ago, so a long time before the dinosaurs disappeared from the earth. Reports of more recent ichthyosaur remains have occasionally appeared, but these were always erroneous trails, for example errors were made during the dating procedure or the find was misinterpreted.

Remains from the banks of the Vistula

In Poland, only single ichthyosaur vertebrae have been found, with a characteristic cross-section, as well as teeth and jaw fragments. In 2009, just outside the town of Tarnowskie Góry, a high school student found a jaw belonging to a relatively small ichthyosaur from the Triassic. The jaws and teeth of these reptiles are also known from the late Jurassic limestones of the Polish Jura – in the vicinity of Częstochowa and Wieluń. This type of fossil was also found in phosphate rock deposits near Annopol on the Vistula. How did the reptilian remains come to be discovered in Poland? The presence of ichthyosaurs in our area was rare, because these areas were then covered by shallow seas. However, if an individual appeared and then died, scavengers would feed on its body. Hence the finds – for example, the ones from Annopol – are so fragmentary.

Literature:
Encyklopedia Audiowizualna Britannica, Kurpisz S.A., Poznań 2006, part I: Zoologia (on the basis of Britannica- Polish edition, pp. 64–65);
Machalski Marcin, Sekrety rybojaszczurów, „Focus.pl” (2010).

 
 
 
 
Elaborated by: Anna Berestecka (Editorial team of Małopolskas Virtual Museums),
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

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Ammonites from the Kraków area

At the end of the Triassic and beginning of the Jurassic carbonate formations were being destroyed and removed from the land. The Middle Jurassic sea entered into the vicinity of Kraków in the Upper Bathonian and lasted till the Kimmeridgian.

 

 

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At the end of the Triassic and beginning of the Jurassic carbonate formations were being destroyed and removed from the land. The Middle Jurassic sea entered into the vicinity of Kraków in the Upper Bathonian and lasted till the Kimmeridgian. In the Bathonian, clay deposited locally. It was used to make fireproof material (Grójec clay). Numerous prints of plants have been found there. Poorly cemented sand are younger, widespread deposits of the Middle Jurassic–Callovian.  Above them, there is a layer of sandy crinoid limestone containing numerous fossils: brachiopods, bivalves, belemnites, echinoderms and ammonites, the genera Macrocephalites and Phylloceras. In the upper part of the limestone, there is a nodular, bottom-like layer (fragments of Callovian rocks in iron-manganese cover), sometimes cut by an erosion plane as it is in Zalas near Krzeszowice. Above the profile there is a layer of limestone called Balin oolite containing numerous iron ooids. An oolite layer, or when it does not occur, a nodular one is covered with stromatolites – petrified results of algae or bacteria activity. Pink, yellow, red and grey marly limestone and grey marly poriferans, banded, bedded or rocky limestone build the Oxfordian formation. Numerous outcrops of Jurassic rocks from Kraków vicinity have been described in palaeontological and sedimentological literature. Balin near Chrzanów, Czerna near Krzeszowice and the Racławka valley are the best-known localities of Callovian fauna occurrence from the Balin oolite. The exposure of the cover in the porphyry quarry in Zalas near Krzeszowice and small limestone excavations  at Podłęże near Brodła are the source where several dozens of species of ammonites have been collected. Among them, there are adult representatives of the species Creniceras crenatum (Brugière) reaching the maximum diameter of 20 mm and medium size (several dozens of centimetres) of the genus MacrocephalitesPhylloceras and PerisphinctesGregoryceras tenuisculptum Gygi and Bullatimorphites bullatus, found as single specimens, are collectors’ rarities. Among curiosities, it is worth to mention well-preserved and quite large specimens of Euaspidoceras paucituberkulatum Arkell and Peltoceratoides constantii (d’Orb.) obtained in 1998. Ammonites belong to an extinct group of cephalopoda living from Devonian till Cretaceous. They were undergoing quick evolution, therefore they are usually used in stratigraphy as index fossils to determine ammonite layers, which are characterised by one or a group of characteristic ammonites. Their common occurrence, easy gaining and beauty of shells, casts and external moulds cause  them to be the most popular fossils among collectors. Secondary mineralisation of shells and camerae appears quite often. Calcite, barite, pyrite, chalcedony and quartz replace frequently aragonite shells of ammonites.

Elaborated by Remigiusz Molenda (The Geological Museum at the Faculty of Geology, Geophysics and Environmental Protection of the AGH University of Science and Technology)l, © all rights reserved

See also:
Amonit
Euaspidoceras paucituberkulatum Arkell”
Ichthyosaur’s teeth

Ammonite mineralised with quartz and chalcedony

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Ichthyosaur’s teeth

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