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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. hercynicus Kuhn, 1946
  • 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,[citation needed] Russia,[citation needed] United States of America,[citation needed] Colombia,[3] southern Patagonia,[4] Western Europe[citation needed] and possibly New Zealand.[citation needed] 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.[5]




"Ophthalmosaurus" natans



Ophthalmosaurus (type species)






"Platypterygius" hercynicus

"Platypterygius" australis (=Longirostria)[6]

Platypterygius (type species)


"Platypterygius" americanus (=Tenuirostria)[6]


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]

"Platypterigius" australis has been found with remains of sea turtles and birds (Nanantius) in its guts.[7] Several species attributed to this genus do indeed appear to be apex predators, specialised to hunting proportionally large prey.[8]


  • Platypterygius platydactylus (Broilli, 1907) (type)
  • Platypterygius hercynicus (Kuhn, 1946)
  • Platypterygius americanus (Nace 1939)
  • Platypterygius kiprijanoffi (Romer 1968)
  • Platypterygius australis (McCoy, 1867)
  • Platypterygius campylodon (Carter, 1846)
  • Platypterygius ochevi Arkhangel’sky et al., 2008
  • Platypterygius sachicarum Páramo, 1997
  • Platypterygius hautali (von Huene, 1927)

Formerly referred species[edit]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ Pardo-Pérez, Judith; Frey, Eberhard; Stinnesbeck, Wolfgang; Fernández, Marta S.; Rivas, Luis; Salazar, Christian; Leppe, Marcelo (2012). "An ichthyosaurian forefin from the Lower Cretaceous Zapata Formation of southern Chile: implications for morphological variability within Platypterygius" (PDF). Palaeoclimate, Palaeobiology, Paleoenvironments. 92: 287–294. doi:10.1007/s12549-012-0074-8. Retrieved 30 August 2016. 
  5. ^ Patrick S. Druckenmiller and Erin E. Maxwell (2010). "A new Lower Cretaceous (lower Albian) ichthyosaur genus from the Clearwater Formation, Alberta, Canada". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 47 (8): 1037–1053. Bibcode:2010CaJES..47.1037D. doi:10.1139/E10-028. 
  6. ^ a b Arkhangel’sky, M. S., 1998, On the Ichthyosaurian Genus Platypterygius: Palaeontological Journal, v. 32, n. 6, p. 611-615.
  7. ^ Kear, Benjamin P.; Boles, Walter E. & Smith, Elizabeth T. (2003): Unusual gut contents in a Cretaceous ichthyosaur. Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Supplement) 270: S206–S208. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2003.0050
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ a b Valentin Fischer, Maxim S. Arkhangelsky, Darren Naish, Ilya M. Stenshin, Gleb N. Uspensky and Pascal Godefroit (2014) Simbirskiasaurus and Pervushovisaurus reassessed: implications for the taxonomy and cranial osteology of Cretaceous platypterygiine ichthyosaurs. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 171(4): 822–841 DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12158
  • Long, J.A., Dinosaurs of Australia and New Zealand, UNSW Press, Australia 1998

External links[edit]