DescriptionUNCOMMONLY LARGE MESSEL GARFISH
The Messel Pit, Messel, Germany
The Messel Pit, near the town of Messel, Germany, was the source of very important fossils providing a view into the Eocene, 47 million years ago. Fossils were preserved in a soft oil shale with a surprising amount of detail; most fossils were found complete and even included feathers, fur, and the outline of skin. Fossils of all major fauna were found there; many types of fish, birds, snakes, insects, and mammals; including rare early primates. Before it was nearly turned into a landfill, the Messel Pit was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995; meaning that while the site is protected, no more fossils will ever likely be collected. Fossils from the site are often prepared using a method called the "transfer technique" which involved covering an exposed fossil with resin and preparing it from the other side to create a distinctive three-dimensional fossil. The present specimen was professionally prepared using that technique; the specimen is a very large garfish prepared from the ventral view. The details on the gar are remarkable; every individual diamond-shaped scale is distinct, the fins are three-dimensional, and the underside view of the skull shows the full extent of the lower jaw; there are a few needle-sharp teeth present and the snout is evident, complete with nostrils. The overall length of the gar is 32 inches embedded in a resin slab measuring 47 x 17 ½ inches.
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