Wendichthys, A Mississippian Bear Gulch Paleoniscoid Fish Fossil

Wendichthys dicksoni

Class Actinoptergyii, Order Paleonisciformes, FamilyPalaeoniscidae

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

Size: Fish: 130 mm long

Fossil Site:Taylor Formation, Bear Gulch Limestone, Fergus County, Montana

WendichthysDescription: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 described 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 is a very well-preserved example of a Paleoniscoid fish known as Wendichthys. The paleoniscoids were the first ray-finned fish, a feature readily seen here. Some 40 or more families appeared during the Carboniferous and Permian Periods. This superb example shows the rhombic scales and fin rays to good advantage. Its only minor flaw is a repair to the matrix posterior to the head that detracts but little from this striking specimen from a rarely-offered location.

Also see: Bear Gulch Paleozoic Fish Bear Gulch Fossils

click to enlarge

Wendichthys dicksoni


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