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Nevada's State Fossil: Shonisaurus

The Shonisaurus: one of the largest marine reptiles of its time living right here in Nevada. These strange looking prehistoric creatures are Nevada’s state fossil. You may be asking: why is Nevada’s fossil a sea creature? That’s because millions of years ago, Nevada was covered by an ocean. It was home to many species, one group of which was called the ichthyosaurs. Ichthyosaurs were dolphin-like in appearance; however, they are believed to be marine reptiles rather than marine mammals. There were many species of ichthyosaurs, but Shonisaurus is one of the largest. These giants could be up to 70 feet long!

The Shonisaurus, despite being one of the largest animals at the time, wasn’t as voracious a predator as you might think. Their long snouts and lack of significant teeth made it so that they could only eat softer things, such as squid. Another anomaly about the Shonisaurus is that despite being reptilian, they gave life birth, much like a mammal.

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