Xiphactinus audax
    Upper Cretaceous, Santonian stage
    Upper Smoky Hills Chalk, Niobrara Formation, Logan Co, Kansas

    A vicious-looking prehistoric bony fish, the Xiphactinus, or "bulldog fish", roamed the warm shallow waters of the Western Interior Seaway that split the continent of America in two halves for a large proportion of the Upper Cretaceous period. A ferocious 20-foot long predator, it was second in the food chain only to the sharks, such as the Squalicorax, and to the monstrous Mosasaur in these 85 million years old waters. First named in 1870 by Joseph Leidy, it remains still the object of a certain amount of nominal confusion, a junior synonym having been superfluously created the following year by E.D. Cope, Portheus molossus. This dramatic specimen certainly conjures the strength and viciousness of its canine namesake, with the powerful jaws preserved in remarkable three-dimensionality, bristling with frightful long black teeth (the longest measures 1¾ inches). In fact, these teeth were used primarily for securing its prey, as the Xiphactinus was in the habit of swallowing its meals whole. The level of detail to this skull is outstanding, as is the patina and texture, from the bony sclerotic ring that supported the eyeball, to the three vertebrae with their slender processes that complete the specimen. The strong chocolate brown coloring of the bones leaps vividly from the pale cream matrix, fully conjuring the aggressive and forceful nature of the fish, framed in dark-stained wood 17 1/8 x 25 1/8 inches overall.

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    Condition report available upon request.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2011
    12th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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