Body shape and swimming

Body shape

The body of Ophthalmosaurus icenicus was 

  • about 4 metres long
  • with a long snout 
  • a barrel-shaped but streamlined body 
  • large, broad fore-paddles
  • much smaller hind paddles
  • a large dorsal fin
  • two tail flukes
  • tail vertebrae bend sharply downwards supporting the lower tail fluke
  • weighed around 930-950 kg 

The body outline is known from other ichthyosaurs so we know it had a similar body shape, just like whales and dolphins. 

Fore paddles

Ophthalmosaurus icenicus had large broad fore-paddles used for steering and manoeuvering. 


All ichthyosaurs were totally sea-going; it is known from some fossils that all ichthyosaurs gave birth to live young in the water.

Ophthalmosaurus icenicus  swam in a fish-like manner using its powerful tail for propulsion at between 2.5 and 1.0 metres per second.