Prionolepis Predator and Prey Fossil Fish Plaque
Fossil Fish within Fossil Fish

Name: Prionolepis cataphractus with Hajulia sp

Geological Time: Middle Cretaceous, Cenomanian Stage (95 mya)

Size (25.4 mm = 1 inch): Prionolepis: 90 mm Hajulia: 50 mm on a 70 mm by 120 mm matrix.

Fossil Site: Lebanese Lagerstatt, Haqel, Lebanon

Prionolepis cataphractus fossil fishDescription: Prionolepis is betrayed as a predator by the long gape of the mouth. This genus went extinct by the Upper Cretaceous. Hajulia is a small fish that went extinct in the Cretaceous, but is possibly related to the recent genus Pterothrissus. The Hajulia may have been too much for the Prionolepis to handle, leading to the death of the predator. This is a miniature version of my favorite fish plaque: The 4 m long Xiphactinus with a 2 m Gillicus in its stomach to be seen as the fantastic “fish-within-a-fish” at the Sternberg Museum in Hays, Kansas. Notice too the pair of crinoids on the reverse. The behavior of fossils is rarely preserved, but this plaque is definitive proof of what the Prionolepis was doing shortly before its demise.

click fossil images to enlarge

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