What Really Is Ichthyosaurus? – #365papers – 2017 – 106

#365papers for April 16, 2017

Massare and Lomax, 2017, A taxonomic reassessment of Ichthyosaurus communis and I. intermedius and a revised diagnosis for the genus: Journal of Systematic Paleontology. DOI: 10.1080/14772019.2017.1291116.

What’s it about?

Ichthyosaurus is (or was) a type of marine reptile that looked sort of dolphin-like.

Ichthyosaurus communis from the Natural History Museum in London. Credit Gehdoghedo CC 3.0 By SA

Ichthyosaurus communis life reconstruction.
Credit: Nobu Tamura CC BY 3.0

Here, the authors work to distinguish between three common species of Ichthyosaurus, I. communis, I. intermedius, and I. breviceps. The authors also present a better definition for the genus Ichthyosaurus.

Why does it matter?

I may have mentioned this once or twice before, but taxonomy is the backbone to paleontology. If we cannot correctly identify and distinguish species, then we cannot use those species for meaningful discussion.

Why did I read this?

So it happens that Judy Massare is a personal friend. We have talked many, many times about the challenges of ichthyosaur taxonomy. This paper popped up on my feed, and I wanted to read it.

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