DescriptionLarge Fossil Gar
Eocene, Green River Formation, Wyoming, USA
Easily identified by their diamond-shaped ganoid scales, that serve as flexible armor in living examples, Gars are uncommon in the fossil record of the Green River Formation, and they are among the most primitive of any fish. Their predatory nature is proven by the presence of numerous, sharp conical teeth in their elongated snouts, a format that is common to fish-eating predators worldwide: crocodiles, gavials, alligators, pike, etc., all share the same design motif. Gars tough armor makes fossil preservation of the body fairly simple, but the problem in obtaining good examples can be found in two places: their cylindrical bodies and their gills. The body problem occurs when the deceased Gar sinks to the lake bottom. Being essentially a cylinder, Gars are just as likely to land top-side up as sideways. This is not good, since compression of top-side up remains, results in a fossil that doesn't look like a Gar, but rather in a fossil that only a paleontologist can identify. This applies equally to ones that land up-side down or at a 45 degree angle. The result is the same: a Frankenstein Gar, suitable for study but not display. This one had the good grace to land on its side, leading to its clear and obvious identity as a Gar. The gill problem revolves around the tendency of departed Gars to start the disintegration process in the gill area. A process that can result in the skull becoming dis-articulated and leading to a fossil whose skull looks like an airplane crash. Again, this exceptional example made it to the bottom in "good" shape; for a dead Gar. 56 million years later, a skillful fossil "digger" was fortunate enough to find this 29 inch Gar and remove it without damage. The same digger is one of the top preparators of Green River fossils, which is why the fine details of the skull and the fins are complete and intact: a tribute to his skill and knowledge. One other feature worthy of note: the rich color is not typical of most Green River fossils, it is a hue found only in certain layers of that formation, a layer not normally populated by many fossils at all.
Overall Measurements: 38.0 x 18.0 inches (96.5 x 45.7 cm)
Offered at no reserve.
Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000.
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