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Temporal range: Early - Late Cretaceous
Tyrrell fossil.jpg
P. americanus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Ichthyosauria
Family: Ophthalmosauridae
Subfamily: Platypterygiinae
Genus: Platypterygius
von Huene, 1922
  • P. platypterygius (Broilli, 1907) type
  • P. americanus (Nace 1939) McGowan 1972
  • P. bannovkensis Arkhangel'skii 1998
  • P. bedengensis (Effimov 1997)
  • P. hercynicus Kuhn, 1946
  • P. birjukovski (Ochev & Efimov 1985)
  • P. kiprijanoffi (Romer 1968) McGowan 1972?
  • P. australis (McCoy, 1867)
  • P. ochevi Arkhangel’sky et al., 2008 [1]
  • P. sachicarum Páramo, 1997

Platypterygius ('Flat wing (flipper)', von Huene 1922) is an ichthyosaur of the family Ophthalmosauridae. It is most closely related to the genera Caypullisaurus and Brachypterygius.[2]

Discovery and species[edit]

Skull of P. sachicarum in the Paleontological Museum in Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Fossils are known from Australia, Russia, United States of America, Colombia,[3] Western Europe and possibly New Zealand. There are seven named species. Both adults and juveniles have been unearthed, including newborns and pregnant females. Like other ichthyosaurs, Platypterygius gave live birth.

The remains from Australia were originally called Ichthyosaurus australis. They are from the Toolebuc Formation and Allaru Mudstone (Albian, Lower Cretaceous) of Flinders River and other localities in north central Queensland. In 1990 Wade erected the species name P. longmani to include all remains previously referred to I.australis .

The cladogram below follows the topology from a 2010 analysis by Patrick S. Druckenmiller and Erin E. Maxwell.[4]




"Ophthalmosaurus" natans



Ophthalmosaurus (type species)






"Platypterygius" hercynicus

"Platypterygius" australis (=Longirostria)[5]

Platypterygius (type species)


"Platypterygius" americanus (=Tenuirostria)[5]


P. kiprijanovi - Albian-Cenomanian of Kursk region (Russia)

Platypterygius reached a length of about 7 m (23 ft). It had a long snout and a powerful finned tail. There are more digits in the front flippers than is usual in ichthyosaurs; they are tightly bound in rows, giving a broad, flat appearance[citation needed]. This unusual characteristic gives the genus its name, meaning 'flat wing.' Furthermore, some of the wrist bones have disappeared entirely.[citation needed] CAT scans on a juvenile specimen strongly suggest that Platypterygius was deaf.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Arkhangel’sky, M. S., Averianov, A. O., Pervushov, E. M., Ratnikov, V. Yu, and Zozyrev, N. Yu., 2008, On ichthyosaur remains from the Cretaceous of the Voronezh region: Paleontological Journal, v. 42, n. 3, p. 287-291.
  2. ^ Fernández M. 2007. Redescription and phylogenetic position of Caypullisaurus (Ichthyosauria: Ophthalmosauridae). Journal of Paleontology 81 (2): 368-375.
  3. ^ Páramo, M. E. Platypterygius sachicarum (Reptilia, Ichthyosauria) nueva especie del Cretácico de Colombia. Revista Ingeominas 6, 1997: 1–12
  4. ^ Michael W. Maisch and Andreas T. Matzke (2003). "Observations on Triassic ichthyosaurs. Part XII. A new Lower Triassic ichthyosaur genus from Spitzbergen". Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie Abhandlungen 229: 317–338. 
  5. ^ a b Arkhangel’sky, M. S., 1998, On the Ichthyosaurian Genus Platypterygius: Palaeontological Journal, v. 32, n. 6, p. 611-615.
  • Long, J.A., Dinosaurs of Australia and New Zealand, UNSW Press, Australia 1998

External links[edit]