6.3" Fossil Fish (Diplomystus) & Mioplosus - Green River Formation

This is a 6.3" long Diplomystus dentatus fish from the Green River Formation flanked by a small 3.8" Mioplosus. They were collected from Warfield's Quarry near Kemmerer, Wyoming.

This specimen includes an acrylic display stand.

Diplomystus is an extinct genus of freshwater, ray-finned predators that are distantly related to modern herrings and sardines. Diplomystus has a distinctive jaw that protrudes aggressively outward from the mouth at an angle that allowed it to feed in surface waters and devour such prey as the smaller, schooling Knightia.

50 million years ago in the Eocene (55.8 mya to 33.8 mya), D. dentatus thrived in lakes fed by the Uinta and Rocky Mountain highlands. D. dentatus is uniquely entombed in the fine-grained lime mud of Fossil Lake.

The anoxic conditions at the bottom of Fossil Lake slowed bacterial decomposition, prevented scavengers from disturbing corpses, and, most interestingly, suffocated creatures that ventured into the oxygen-starved aquatic layer. The result is a miraculous exhibition of Eocene biota in a subtropical aquatic community within sycamore forests, teeming with creatures such as freshwater stingrays, dog-sized horses, menacing alligators, early flying bats, and one of the first primates.

By the end of the Eocene, Earth developed icehouse climate characteristics and had a change in atmospheric chemistry. The effects of bolide impacts may also have contributed to the eventual loss of flora and fauna at once verdant latitudes.

Today the wonderfully preserved fossils of Diplomystus and other Fossil Lake fauna are collected in several private quarries around Kemmerer, Wyoming. The best preserved fish fossils come from the coveted 18 Inch Layer. This layer is collected at night under high-powered lights, enhancing the faint signs of fish under the surface indicating underlying fossils. These “ghosted” fish then must go through many hours of manual preparation to remove the overlying rock and reveal the Green River fauna in all of its glory.

Mioplosus is a genus of large extinct perciform fish that lived through the Eocene epoch. This genus is easily distinguished by an elongate fusiform body, double dorsal fins, and forked tail. Mioplosus was a solitary predator with large teeth: a few fossil specimens have been collected with other, smaller fish lodged in their throats. Most fossils of this genus are from the Tertiary-aged Green River Formation in Wyoming, though relatives of this genus are known to range throughout Asia and New Zealand. Mioplosus is also believed to be related to the modern pike-perch of the genus Sander (Stizostedion).

50 million years ago, in the Eocene, these fish thrived in Fossil Lake, which was fed by the Uinta and Rocky Mountain highlands. The anoxic conditions at the bottom of Fossil Lake slowed bacterial decomposition, prevented scavengers from disturbing corpses and, most interestingly, suffocated creatures that ventured into the oxygen-starved aquatic layer. The result is a miraculous exhibition of Eocene biota: a subtropical aquatic community within sycamore forests, teeming with creatures such as freshwater stingrays, dog-sized horses, menacing alligators, early flying bats, and one of the first primates.

A view of one of the commercial quarries where fossils from the Green River Formation are collected.
A view of one of the commercial quarries where fossils from the Green River Formation are collected.
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DETAILS
SPECIES
Diplomystus dentatus & Mioplosus
LOCATION
Warfield's Quarry, Kemmerer, WY
FORMATION
Green River Formation
SIZE
6.3" larger fish on 9.2 x 7.5" rock
CATEGORY
ITEM
#131213
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