Bizarre Bear Gulch Echinochimaera Male Fish

Museum Paleozoic Fish Fossil

Echinochimaera meltoni

Class Chondrichthyes, Subclass Holocephali, Order Chimaeriformes, Family Echinochimaeridae

Geological Time: Mississippian (~320 m.y.a.)

Size (25.4 mm = 1 inch): Fish fossil: 80 mm long on a 230 mm by 130 mm matrix and 60 mm on a 55 mm by 40 mm matrix

Fossil Site: Heath Shale Formation, Bear Gulch Limestone, Fergus County, Montana

Fossil Code: BGF650

Price: Sold

Echinochimaera meltoniDescription: The Bear Gulch Limestone is a deposit of some 70 square km in extent and 30 m in depth that has been a source of one of the most diverse assemblages of fossil fish with some 110 species having been Echinochimaeradescribed over the past 30 years. Most were new to science, and provided a unique view of the marine environment of Mississippian times. Fine preservation of both fish and invertebrates is a hallmark of these deposits, presumably due to an anoxic depositional environment. This specimen is a Modern chimaeraschimaeroid known as Echinochimaera meltoni, related to the modern day chimaeras that are known as ghost sharks or ratfishes (see life drawing of Chimaera monstrosa). Most chimaeras of today possess a poisonous spine forward of the dorsal fin. Echinochimaera fishEchinochimaera also displays such a spine, and it possibly served the same defensive purpose. Note the exceptional detail to this fine specimen. This one is a male as demonstrated by the dorsaltaller spine and presence of claspers. See the illustration for a female example. Unfortunately the anterior portion of the counterpart was not collected. There is a repair that crosses the specimen, but it detracts but little from such a fine example.

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Echinochimaera meltoni

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