Mary Anning's Ichthyosaur

This 195-million-year-old marine reptile was discovered at some time before 1836 by the British palaeontologist Mary Anning (1799–1847). It is an ichthyosaur from the Jurassic period, and the fossil contains the visible remains of prehistoric fish in its stomach.


The ichthyosaur fossil is so well preserved that fish bones and scales from its last meal can still be seen inside its ribcage. It is one of the first ichthyosaurs ever discovered with preserved stomach contents from the UK.

Its discoverer, Mary Anning, lived and worked in the English coastal town of Lyme Regis, finding and selling fossils. She made many important discoveries in the Jurassic rocks there, including the first plesiosaur to be scientifically described, and many other ichthyosaur skeletons. Her life, scientific work and discoveries are now celebrated worldwide.

This particular specimen has recently been reidentified as a juvenile of Ichthyosaurus anningae, named after Mary Anning.

An illustration of Mary Anning’s ichthyosaur skeleton appeared in William Buckland’s book Geology and Mineralogy (1836)
Drag the divider to reveal the accuracy of this detailed drawing, alongside the original fossil.