Exquisite Atractosteus Fossil Gar Fish from Messel

A Living Fossil

Atractosteus strausi

Holostei, Lepisosteiformes, Lepisousteidae

Geological Time: Middle Eocene

Size (25.4 mm = 1 inch): Fish Fossil is 230 mm in length on 305 mm by 195 mm resin matrix

Fossil Site: Messel Pit, Darmstadt, Germany (also called Messel Oil Shales)

Code: UKF146

Price: Sold

Atractosteus strausi Messel Fossil Gar FishDescription: This is a fine example of a gar from the oil shale Messel Pit deposits of Darmstadt, Germany, known as Atractosteus strausi. The genus persists until today, with the Alligator Gar from the southern United States a typical example whose morphology is quite similar to this fossil specimen. While examples from as small as 10 cm to nearly 1 meter are known, most fall between 20-30 cm in length. Notice the rhomboid armor-like scales. They are covered in ganoin whichGar Fish Living Fossil gives them a shiny appearance. The extant Alligator Gar is reputed to be able to turn away small caliber bullets shot at them by hunters.

These ~50 million year old deposits are famous for their exceptionally well-preserved organisms, some of which have the remains of their last meal preserved within. Soft tissue preservation is a common event in material from the pit, and that is seen here in preservation of much of the specimen, including the detailed scales. Due to this fragility of the oil shale, this specimen, like all from the locality, has been embedded in resin to allow preparation. The fossil is then flipped over and the matrix removed on the opposite side. A final coating of resin serves to preserve the specimen as seen here. There is a faint repair to the distal portion, but it does little to detract from the overall appearance of the primitive-looking fish that richly deserves the appellation “living fossil”. This fine example is offered at price that while seeming higher than some you may see on the web but is an excellent, original specimen. Casts have been made of it in the past, but this is the original. The name of the source can be found on the label on the reverse.

Fish Fossils for Sale

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