STL Science Center

STL Science Center

25 November 2016

Quality Images

The best quality images of Shastasaurus are all somewhat similar and lack the flash that is often added into dinosaur illustrations. However, there are a number of high-quality illustrations of Shastasaurus that are interesting and intriguing. One such illustration shows Shastasaurus digging along the bottom of the ocean for its food, presumably. This is one of the only (if not the only) image of this ichthyosaur from a more ventral angle. The belly of the beast, figuratively and literally, is not all that impressive. The flippers and underside of the trunk are smooth and non-remarkable; however, the tail is differently interesting (that does sound odd, admittedly). The tail vertebrae, assuming that this illustration is entirely accurate, occupy the ventral region of the tail and curve downward to the end of the hypocercal tail. The tail also has what appears to be an untethered membrane which, being untethered to the body or the remainder of the tail, would need to be extremely rigid in order to produce any appreciable thrust. Either way, adding the membrane to the tail is not unique to this illustration, but this version of the animal has probably the most conservative amount of interpreted soft tissue that has been shown.
©Nikolay Zverkov

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