June 16, 2024

Westside People

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‘I’ve never seen anything like it’: Jurassic-era fish fossils found on British farm

A fossilized Pachycormus, an extinct genus of ray-finned fish.

A farm in England was the unlikely source of the Jurassic Prize: a treasure trove of 183-million-year-old fossils. On the outskirts of Gloucestershire in the Cotswolds, beneath soil that is currently trampled under cattle hooves, researchers recently discovered the fossilized remains of giant fish and marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs, squid, insects and other ancient animals dating back to the early part of the Jurassic period (201.3 million to 145 million years ago).

Among the more than 180 fossils recorded during excavation, one notable specimen was a preserved three-dimensional fish head belonging to the Pachycormus, an extinct genus of ray-finned fish. The fossil, which the researchers found embedded in a knot of hardened limestone outside the clay, was very well preserved and contained soft tissue, including scales and an eye. The 3D nature of the specimen’s head and body position was such that the researchers could not compare it to any other previous discovery.