Lot 43

AN EXCEPTIONAL ICHTHYOSAUR
Stenopterygius hauffianus
Lower Jurassic, Lias epsilon 2 – Approximately 195 million years old
Posidonienschiefer Formation, Holzmaden/Baden-Wuerttemberg/Germany

This superb specimen of the great aquatic reptile is one of the finest a collector could hope to find; it’s of an extremely rare species, Stenopterygius hauffianus, where fewer than 12 known examples are known to exist. Also noteworthy are its size, completeness and quality of preservation. So pristine is the preservation that even much of its stomach content can be seen behind the bar-like rows of slender ribs. It is almost entirely complete, perfectly articulated, with only the last 5 cm of the tail restored.

The ichthyosaur — Greek for "fish lizard" — first appeared 250 million years ago, 20 million years before the first dinosaur, and became extinct about 25 million years before their land-dwelling counterparts, approximately 90 million years ago. They seem to have evolved from land-dwelling reptiles who returned to the oceans, evidence is shown in the structure of their flippers suggesting that the bones evolved from a form more similar to an arm and a hand, with fingers and a thumb-like appendage. Once back in the water, the ichthyosaur developed a body form built for speed, similar to modern day tuna, with an elongated snout, sleek body and powerful propulsive flippers. Like today's cetaceans, it retained the need to breathe air and also was a deep diver. However, as it became more adapted to life in the water, it lost the ability to return to land to lay eggs, thus becoming viviparous, producing young through live birth in shallow water similar to cetaceans.

Uncommonly large, the Ichthyosaurus measures just over 8 ½ feet in length (265 cm), and is displayed in perfect articulation in a plate of characteristic gray Holzmaden “Flein” shale, measuring 10 ¾ x 5 ¼ feet (330 x 160 cm.)

Please note that this Museum Quality display specimen can easily be hung on a wall as it has been steel framed on the back along with hanging mounts. It can also be displayed free-standing with the addition of two support feet, which could be inserted into the steel frame.

Location of the item
France - 75008 Paris