Crossopholis magnicandatus
    Green River Formation, Wyoming, USA

    From the abundant formation of the "Fossil Lake" at Green River in Wyoming, the Paddlefish is the rarest described fish species, and is usually represented by incomplete specimens. Crossopholis is a distant relative to the modern paddlefish, Polyodon spathula, and are largely unossified, consisting mainly of cartilage and notochordal tissue. As such, they are rarely fossilized unless immediately and completely covered by a layer of silt, otherwise the cartilage and organic tissue that comprises much of their anatomy decomposes far too rapidly to be preserved. The paddlefish species are filter feeders, straining zooplankton (Leptodora kindtii) out of the water with fine filaments called gill rakers. These are located in the gill arches found inside their mouths, an anatomical feature predominant in the species. The present fossil displays rare preservation of elements of this filter-feeding system, in the form of the star-shaped patterning that lines the snout. Elsewhere, the bones are preserved with an excellent degree of three-dimensionality, and where the fine structure of the fins has been lost, sympathetic restoration completes this superb specimen, which measures an enormous 43¾ inches long on a natural matrix 52 x 25¾ inches, framed and ready for hanging.

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2009
    18th Sunday
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