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Scholars Day 2006, Wednesday, April 12

Swimming Style of Baptanodon, a Jurassic ichthyosaur from Wyoming

Ichthyosaurs are extinct marine reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era. Their adaptations to life in the water included flipper-like limbs, a dorsal fin, and a crescent-shaped tail, giving them a superficial resemblance to dolphins. Ichthyosaurs swam by moving their tails, but the swimming style varied depending on the flexibility of the vertebral column. Flexibility can be determined by the pattern of shape change of the vertebrae along the vertebral column. The vertebral column of Baptanodon was compared to that of two other Jurassic ichthyosaurs: Suevoleviathan, which has been interpreted as being on the flexible end of the spectrum, and Ophthalmosaurus, which is on the opposite end of the spectrum, with a more rigid vertebral column. Surprisingly, Baptanodon shares more similarities with Sueveoleviathan than with Ophthalmosaurus, considered to be its closest relative.

Presenter: Jennifer Kenney (Undergraduate Student)
Topic: Geology
Location: 106A Edwards
Time: 9:30 am (Session I)