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Shonisaurus
Shonisaurus
'An artist's representation of Shonisaurus.'

Distribution

Nevada, USA

Classification

Ichthyosauria, Shastasauridae

Meaning of name

Lizard from the Shoshone Mountains

Named by

Camp, 1976

Time

Norian stage of the Triassic

Size

15 metres (50 ft)

Lifestyle

Carnivore

Species

S. popularis

Shonisaurus was an ichthyosaur from what is now Nevada.  It lived during the late Triassic.

HistoryEdit

DiscoveryEdit

In the 1920s mires found a deposit of huge bones in Nevada.  When they were excavated 30 years later they were found to be the remains of 37 individual enormous ichthyosaurs, and were named Shonisaurus.  They may have been a shoal that was beached, or cut off from the sea.  More recently, the scientific view is that they died and sank to the sea bed.

FeaturesEdit

This ichthyosaur has a whale-like shape and long narrow paddles.  It has teeth only at the front of the jaws.

DebatesEdit

Shonisaurus sikanniensisEdit

Shonisaurus popularis held the record as the biggest of the ichthyosaurs, but the skeleton of 'an even bigger species, S. sikanniensis was found in the 1990s in British Columbia.  With an estimated length of 21 metres (70 ft)this was so big it could only have been seen in its entirety from the air.  Recent studies about whether or not S. sikanniensis is a Shonisaurus or an even bigger, closely related ichthyosaur called Shastasaurus have been inconclusive.  

TriviaEdit

  • Of the skulls found, only the smaller ones had teeth, Shonisaurus may have become toothless as it grew.