A rare fish fossil in a ‘severe’ posture found in grazing

A rare fish fossil in a 'severe' posture found in grazing

Jonathan Amos – BBC Science Correspondent

Posted on 7/29/2022 1:11 PM

A gruesome fish fossil has been unearthed from a remarkable new Jurassic excavation site outside Stroud in Gloucestershire, UK.

Creature – called a predator PachycormusLike tuna – beautifully preserved in three dimensions.

With its large teeth and eyes, it looks like it’s about to launch an attack.

The specimen was identified by fossil hunters Neville and Sally Hollingworth.

“It was a real surprise because when you find fossils, most of the time they’ve been flattened by the action of time,” Neville tells BBC News.

“However, this discovery was surprising because we realized that the skull was not crushed.”

“The fish’s mouth is open—it looks like it’s coming out of the rock toward you.”


Sally Hollingworth
These English cattle sit on top of fossil-rich Early Jurassic clay.

The couple found the fish head in a pasture behind a barn in the village of Kings Stanley.

It was embedded in one of the many limestone nodules that formed the layer of exposed clay.

Landowner Adam Knight had no idea his cattle were grazing on 183-million-year-old fossils. At the time, the site was in warm tropical waters.

Along with a team led by the University of Manchester in England, Knight gave Neville and Sally the go-ahead.

A backhoe was brought in to extract hundreds of knots, which were carefully opened to see what was inside.

Part of Studies on New Fossils

Steve Day
The landowner allowed the team to survey the landscape

At the end of the excavation, more fish, squid and the bones of two ichthyosaurs, similar to today’s dolphins, but larger marine reptiles, were found.

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“We have a whole food chain at this place,” declared paleontologist Dean Lomax of the University of Manchester.

“This one Pachycormus Maybe eat small fish and squid.”

“And the ichthyosaurs will follow Pachycormus.”

Interestingly, in the context of a marine life, fragments of fossilized wood and insects were found in the clay layer, indicating that land was not that far from this body of water.

The discoveries will keep researchers busy for years.

And these specimens are of great interest as they belong to the Early Jurassic – Dorcian period.

This is a period known for the exceptional preservation of specimens, including soft tissue, and the team discovered a fish in which the contents of its stomach could be seen.

“The last find comparable to this was in the 1800s at Strawberry Bank Lagerstad in Somerset,” estimates Sally.

Fish fossil

Dean Lomax
Noteworthy detail: The soft tissues of the fish are preserved

The Hollingworths are famous for their extraordinary ability to identify fossil sites.

They recently discovered the remains of mammoths in a Cotswold water park – the investigation turned into a BBC documentary.

They were also known for finding thousands of fossilized echinoderms – starfish, sea urchins and brittle stars – in a quarry north of the site.

“These sites reveal that there are many more significant fossil discoveries to be made in England,” says Lomax.

It is intended to hold a public exhibition of fossils in England from October.

Neville and Sally Hollingworth

Neville and Sally Hollingworth are famous for finding exceptional fossils in the area

View a 3D model Pachycormus In this connection.

– This text has been published https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/geral-62350978

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