Heliobatis radians, Diplomystus dentata
    Green River Formation, Lincoln Co, Wyoming
    Many of the aquatic animals that lived in the fossil lakes of the Green River Formation were descendants of marine species cut off from the oceans as the North American continents rose slowly from the primordial waters that covered much of the globe. This is the reason why the traditionally ocean-dwelling sting-ray was to be found in these fresh waters. Like their modern-day descendants, they were placid bottom dwellers; the fearsome tail barbs providing an excellent deterrent to predators that might otherwise have enjoyed them as a tasty dinner. As might be expected, the remains of these thin, delicate flat fish are rare. They possessed a cartilaginous skeleton that was highly antipathetic to fossilization, and although the strata of the "18-inch layer" of the Fossil Lake makes it relatively less difficult than in other locations to remove the abundant fossils found there, the "wing" bones of the ray present one of the greatest challenges to the excavator; having the thickness of only two sheets of paper.

    To find one fine example is unusual, but to find two together on one natural matrix plate is exceptional, particularly with the level of detail observable here along with their natural esthetic positioning. Also note worthy is the fact that one of the rays is male and the other is female which perfectly illustrates a romantic moment frozen in time.

    The quality of preservation is outstanding; from the super-fine bones of the fins to the thick, deadly tail barbs. What is more, the two rays are joined by a very large and detailed Diplomystus: the ancient predaceous herring. The quality of the fish is easily comparable to that of the rays; with truly exceptional three dimensionality to the skull and vertebrae, and of excellent size at 19 inches in length. The rays have wingspans of 10½ and 8¾ inches, and the matrix is presented in an ebonized wooden frame, 35 3/8 x 48 3/8 inches overall, an extremely rare combination specimen of highly collectible status.

    Condition Report*:

    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: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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