A black-and-white ink illustration of an extinct ichthyosaur, a marine reptile that resembles a cross between a dolphin and a shark. It has a long thick beak-like snout, large eyes, four flippers (with the front pair larger than the back pair), a triangular dorsal fin, and a vertical-finned tail.

Grendelius mordax, an ichthyosaur from the Late Jurassic of England (~155-150 mya).

Named after the monster Grendel from the epic poem Beowulf, this 4m long (~13′) marine reptile had a big robust skull with large teeth, proportionally short flippers, and smaller eyes than some of its other relatives. It also had an unusual bony “hump” on its snout above its nostrils.

(About 20 years ago Grendelius was reassigned into Brachypterygius on the basis of the two not being distinct enough from each other to justify having separate genus names – but a more recent study suggests that that they actually were different after all, and the name may be valid again.)

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