Journal article Palaeontology doi:10.1111/pala.12174

Marek, R.D., Moon, B.C., Williams, M. & Benton, M.J. 2015 The skull and endocranium of a Lower Jurassic ichthyosaur based on digital reconstructions. Palaeontology 58: 723–742 doi:10.1111/pala.12174

In a first for ichthyosaurs we presented a 3D reconstruction and endocranium of the Early Jurassic ichthyosaur Hauffiopteryx typicus, as part of Ryan Marek’s MSci project.

The segmented CT scans of the skull of Hauffiopteryx typicus from the Early Jurassic Strawberry Bank locality. From Marek et al. (2015).

Ryan was able to segment the bones from a CT scan of this specimen from teh BRLSI Charles Moore collection, but even more exciting he reconstructed the endocast of this ichthyosaur. This is the space within the skull that housed the brain, and its shape can tell us about the relationship and sensory capabilities of animals.

The reconstructed endocast of Hauffiopteryx typicus, which has a large optic lobe and olfactory bulbs suggesting good sight and smell. From Marek et al. (2015).

Previous to this, only Ichthyosaurus had been reconstructed by McGowan (1973) using latex casting. We found similarities in the shape of the endocast, but there are some differences that could be related to preservation or growth stage. Nonetheless, we found support for excellent eyesight in ichthyosaurs, as well as some evidence for strong smell.


McGowan, C. 1973. The cranial morphology of the Lower Liassic latipinnate ichthyosaurs of England. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Geology 24 (1): 1–109.