Californosaurus

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Californosaurus
Temporal range: Upper Triassic, 216–218 mya
Californosaurus perrini
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Subclass: ?Diapsida
Order: Ichthyopterygia
Family: Shastasauridae
Genus: Californosaurus
Kuhn, 1934

Californosaurus was an ichthyosaur, an extinct marine reptile. It was 10 feet (3 m) long. It had four paddle-shaped flippers and sharp teeth in long, pointed jaws (looking a bit like a dolphin).

Californosaurus lived during the late Triassic period in seas that covered what is now California. It fed on fish and other small marine creatures. Like other ichthyosaurs it probably never came onto dry land, and gave birth in the water.

It is the most basal known true ichthyosaur, shaped more or less like a dolphin. The long-snouted head is small in comparison with the rest of the body, as in basal ichthyosaurs such as Mixosaurus and Cymbospondylus. The tail is sharply turned downwards, in common with more advanced ichthyosaurs, with a small vertical fluke. It may have had a small dorsal fin.