Marine reptile collection

Our collections contain many marine reptile specimens from the Lower Lias of the Dorset coast, including some discovered by Mary Anning.

Gallery highlights

Collection highlights on display in the Museum’s Fossil Marine Reptile gallery include:

  • the first ichthyosaur skull, now called Temnodontosaurus platyodon, discovered in 1810.
  • the first articulated plesiosaur, Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus, discovered in 1823.

Large collections of Callovian (Middle Jurassic) marine reptiles from Cambridgeshire brick pits were purchased from Alfred Leeds in 1890 and 1914. These include many type and figured skeletons of plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs and marine crocodiles:

  • the plesiosaur Cryptocleidus eurymerus, on display in the From the Beginning gallery.
  • the ichthyosaur Ophthalmosaurus icenicus, on display in the Hintze Hall (formerly the Central Hall) .
Plesiosaurus macrocephalus

Plesiosaurus macrocephalus, a large-skulled Plesiosaur found by Mary Anning.


Other important marine reptile fossils from the Lower Lias include those of Thomas Hawkins and the Earl of Enniskillen, who both purchased specimens from Mary Anning.

There are also small numbers of isolated bones and teeth of both ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs from a range of Late Jurassic and Cretaceous sites in Britain.

The collections include a unique plesiosaur, Leptoclidus, from the Wealden of Sussex.

More recent acquisitions include two Pleinsbachian ichthyosaurs from the Dorset coast, one of which is the type specimen of Leptonectes moorei.

Using palaeontology collections