|“||I think it's a Cymbospondylus; one of that great group of marine reptiles: the ichthyosaurs. He's a primitive member of the group.||”|
Physical appearance and biology
Cymbospondylus had a long, eel-like body, very different from the more compact and dolphin-like shapes of the later species. It had a pair of long, narrow jaws lined with small albeit sharp teeth. Like its descendants, it had a large tail, but it was less specialized than Ophthalmosaurus' tail was, as it had just a single fluke: Cymbospondylus was probably a slow swimmer, but capable of sudden bursts of speed. As one of the largest ichthyosaurs, it was close to 35 feet long and weighed between 4,000 to 8,000 pounds. The largest species, C. youngorum, was 57 to 60 feet long and weighed 100,000 pounds.
Behaviour and traits
Cymbospondylus was a large, primitive ichthyosaur. Despite its immense size and rather formidable appearance, its teeth were small and fragile. As a result, it mainly hunted small and soft-bodied creatures. However, it would sometimes eat long and slender objects like disconnected Tanystropheus tails.
Its main method of hunting was to circle its prey and to make mock lunges. This would unnerve its prey. Once its prey is off-guard, the Cymbospondylus would deliver the finishing blow.
In Sea Monsters
Whilst grasping a spasming Tanystropheus tail he accidentally tore off, the tail was snatched off of Nigel Marven by a Cymbospondylus. Nigel was circled by the large predator. Fortunately for him, he had an Electric Prod with him.
The Cymbospondylus made a mock lunge at Nigel, prompting Nigel to use his prod. He managed to avoid an attack by prodding the ichthyosaur. The Cymbospondylus approached Nigel who was underneath The Ancient Mariner at the time. The episode then cuts to the Time Map.
Behind the scenes
The claim in The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life that states Cymbospondylus was the largest ichthyosaur is false. It is Shastasaurus that currently holds this title.
In 2005, stamps from Liberia reused images of many Walking with... animals. Including Cymbospondylus.
List of appearances
- Sea Monsters
- Sea Monsters: Prehistoric Predators of the Deep
- Sea Monsters Adventure Game
- The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life
Notes and references