This is one of the first specimens that I ever obtained, nearly ten years ago now, but I still never cease to be amazed and grateful for being able to see and touch whole fossilised remains of extinct creatures.

Many of these fossils are so much stranger in characteristics than current living species, however a lot do appear immediately familiar, despite their different characteristics.

Looking at this Sinohydrosaurus one can immediately make out that it was similar to a lizard. Sinohydrosaurus is a convenient name for Hyphalosaurus Lingyuansis. For those amongst us, like me, who are not Greek scholars its genus name, Hyphalosaurus, simply means submerged lizard. So, unlike most current lizards, it is believed to have lived in water.


It is in fact part of an extinct genus dating back to approximately 130-122 million years ago (the Cretaceous period).

It was a freshwater reptile (with some similarities to the present Monitor lizard) but this lizard had a very small head full of needle like teeth with a very long neck and tail. Its limbs are short and it appears to have had webbed feet.

Hyphalosaurus lingyuanensis, an aquatic reptile from the Early Cretaceous of China, pencil drawing (July 19, 2007) Arthur Weasley

They fed on small fish and, indeed, are frequently found by fossils of Lycoptera fish.

Entire growth series of fossils have been found ranging from eggs (they would lay up to eighteen which did not have a mineralised shell but rather a thin leathery outer) and embryos, through to fully grown adults some of which could achieve sizes of up to 0.8 metres – this little boxed one sadly did not quite achieve that before extinction.

SinohydrosaurusXXThey have mostly been found in the Liaoning province in China, which is the southernmost part of Manchuria in the North East of the country, which is where this would particular example would almost certainly have originated.