A reptilian dolphin?
Both dolphins and icthyosaurs are creatures that breathe air, which means they have to come to the sea surface now and then. Dolphins have evolved to fill the niche that ichthyosaurs used to occupy. An ichthyosaur skeleton shows that it ate squid-like creatures. David Attenborough looks at the fossilized skeleton of a giant ichthyosaur, which was a cannibal. Another species is a mystery because its upper jaw is much larger than its lower jaw, and it has huge paddles and huge eyes. Ichthyosaurs have another thing in common with dolphins - they gave birth to live young. A fossil of a mother ichthyosaur in the throes of bearing a baby, is compared to footage of a dolphin giving birth.
Available since: Fri 7 Aug 2009
This clip is from
2/4 Fossil mysteries - could pterodactyls fly? And why did trilobites have such good eyes?
First broadcast: 30 Apr 1989
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