Description

    RARE FOSSIL RAYFISH
    Aspidorhynchus acutirostris
    Upper Jurassic
    Solnhofen Formation, Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany

    The Aspidorhynchus is an extinct species of ray-finned fish of the Actinopterygius class, so-called for their fins being webs of skin supported by bony or horny spines, as opposed to the fleshy lobed fins that characterize the class Sarcopterygii. The name Aspidorhynchus means literally "shield snout" and the quarry workers at Solnhofen refer to these animals as "Schnabel-Fisch", meaning "beak fish", for the unusual anatomical feature of their upper jaw's being almost twice as long as the lower, terminating in a toothless spike. It was a slender, fast-swimming predator that probably fed on schools of smaller fish, thrashing about amongst them with its beak and elongated body and strong tail fin, easily picking up for lunch those that it knocked unconscious. It is one of the most characterful species to be found in the abundant limestone fossil beds of Solnhofen, prized for the beauty of their preservation through the natural lithographic limestone process, and the present example is no exception. The excellently preserved stalk-like scales and beautiful deep brown coloring give it a vividly life-like appearance against the soft orange-yellow ground of the host matrix. A first-class fossil specimen, the fish itself measures 25 5/8 inches in length, and the matrix 34¼ x 14¾ inches.


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    Auction Dates
    January, 2009
    18th Sunday
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