19 May 2022

Lunchtime talk: How are baby ichthyosaurs made?

Ichthyosaurs are extinct marine reptiles that resemble modern-day dolphins. They appeared in the Early Triassic period and went extinct in the Early Cretaceous period.

All members of the group gave birth to live young. We know this because of exceptional fossils of pregnant females in several species. This lends us a great opportunity to study their prenatal development and reproductive biology in detail.

In this talk we will learn about this prenatal development and reproduction. From a few genera such as Stenopterygius and Ichthyosaurus we have a high enough number of embryos to follow the relative timing of ossification over development. We can therefore categorise embryos in stages. Fetuses in early developmental stages are rare. Bristol Museum & Art Gallery houses one of the most important specimens in this regard, as they have the best preserved early stage fetus of Ichthyosaurus recorded to date.

Because of the large data set we can study differences in development between related species. Studying these embryos also helps us in studying ichthyosaur paleobiology. By observing the ichthyosaur equivalent of the fontanelle, we are able to study birth orientation over time.

Speaker: Feiko Miedema, PhD student in vertebrate paleontology

Feiko has a Masters in Paleobiology/Paleoclimatology from the University of Utrecht, Netherlands and has researched in Stuttgart and Zurich. Currently, his PhD is in collaboration with the State Museum of Natural History, Stuttgart and the University of Hohenheim on skeletal development in ichthyosaurs, with a large focus on prenatal development.

How to take part

This event is free and will be held online over Zoom. Please book your place below. Please visit the Zoom website for guidance on joining meetings.

Although this talk is free, we would be grateful if you could consider making a donation.

Book tickets for this talk

Free – donations welcome.

Details of how to join the session will be in your registration email. Please check your spam folder if the email does not arrive. Bookings close at 11am on Thursday 19 May.

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Additional information

Our lunchtime talks cover a diverse range of subjects that reflect the broad range of amazing collections and themes explored at our museums. They are usually held on the third Thursday of the month.