Cymbospondylus was a ichthyosaur from what is now Nevada and Germany. It lived during the middle to late Triassic.
Cymbospondylus was regarded as part of the shastasaurid group of primitive ichthyosaurs, recent studies suggest that it may be more primitive than originally thought - maybe too primitive to be regarded as an ichthyosaur. Indeed, in appearance it does not seem to have the physical features, such as the dorsal fin and fish-like tail, which are so distinctive of the later members of the group.
Cymbospondylus is more eel-shaped than the other ichthyosaurs, with a narrow body and a long flexible tail that takes up about half the length of the animal. The legs have alredy evolved into paddles but these were probably used more for stabilization, while the swimming action was produced by undulations of the body. The head is quite small in relation to the body but is quite typical of the ichthyosaurs, with the long snout and the small, sharp fish-catching teeth already present.
- Cymbospondylus is the state fossil of Nevada.