Tuesday 1 March 2016

Fish of dinosaur era with unique 'hook-shaped sail' on its back

 Large tuna-like fish named in honor of North Texas amateur fossil hunter who discovered the 90-million-year-old specimen in Dallas County and donated it to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Date: February 22, 2016
Source: Perot Museum of Nature and Science

A 90-million-year-old fossil fish, which has been on display at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, turns out to be a new species. Research conducted by Kenshu Shimada, Ph.D., professor at DePaul University in Chicago and research associate of the Sternberg Museum in Kansas, reveals the 5.5-foot-long fossil fish to possess a tuna-like body with a unique 'hook-shaped sail' on its back. The fish has been given a new species name, Pentanogmius fritschi, in honor of Joseph Fritsch, a local amateur collector who discovered the fossil, dug it up with the help of another avid fossil collector, Kris Howe, and donated it to the Perot Museum.

"At first glance, the specimen looked like a known Pentanogmius species, but when I began to trace the curved dorsal fin, its front half kept extending backwards far beyond where I thought it would end relative to its rear half. That's when I realized I have something new to science," said Dr. Shimada.

The fossil fish is a nearly complete skeleton from the Britton Formation of the Eagle Ford Shale in Dallas County. Dr. Shimada's study suggests that Pentanogmius fritschi was an active fish in open ocean environments that possibly fed on a variety of small animals like squid and other fish.

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