3.2" Fossil Sawfish (Onchopristis) Rostral Barb - Morocco

This is a 3.2" long rostral barb/tooth from an extinct, giant sawfish (Onchopristis numidus). It was collected from the Kem Kem Beds in Taouz, Morocco. The barb has a couple hairline crack repairs and some gap fill restoration.

Onchopristis, or “giant saw”, is a genus of extinct giant sawskate (technical not a sawfish) that lived during the Upper Cretaceous in what is now North Africa. It had a long hard shovel-shaped snout called a rostrum. The saw-like rostrum, lined on both sides with modified tooth-like structures called denticles, were hooked and barbed. Onchopristis had an intimidating, 2 meter long rostrum which it would have used to unearth crustaceans at the bottom of shallow waters like sawfish do today.





We know that for the modern sawfish, the rostrum is covered with electrosensitive pores that allow the sawfish to detect slight movements of prey hiding in the muddy sea floor. The rostrum also serves as a digging tool. Should suitable prey try to swim past, the normally lethargic sawfish springs from the bottom and slashes at it with its saw.

Sawfish also defend themselves with their rostrum against intruding predators such as sharks.

The bazaar looking Onchopristis were frequently torn apart by Spinosaurus when this enormous ray traveled up freshwater streams to breed and lay eggs. Onchopristis probably lived in schools. Crocodiles, Spinosaurus and other fish-eating theropods would have feasted on the 8 meter long rays.

The Kem Kem Group is famous for yielding a diverse, Late Cretaceous, vertebrate assemblage including fish, reptiles and dinosaurs such as Spinosaurus. These fossils are found in a thin bed that outcrops around the edge of a large plateau near Taouz, Morocco. Local miners collect these fossils by digging narrow tunnels by hand into this plateau following the layer.

A paper on this assemblage can be found at: Vertebrate assemblages from the early Late Cretaceous of southeastern Morocco: An overview

One of the tunnels dug into the Kem Kem beds by local miners following the productive fossil beds.
One of the tunnels dug into the Kem Kem beds by local miners following the productive fossil beds.
SOLD
DETAILS
SPECIES
Onchopristis numidus
LOCATION
Taouz, Kem Kem Basin, Morocco
FORMATION
Kem Kem Beds
SIZE
3.2" long
CATEGORY
SUB CATEGORY
ITEM
#219885
GUARANTEE
We guarantee the authenticity of all of our
specimens. Read more about our
Authenticity Guarantee.