Australian big dinosaur age fish discovery

A paleontologist lies next to the biggest fish fossil ever found in Australia, the prehistoric fish the Cooyoo. Source: The Courier-Mail

From the Courier-Mail in Australia:

Australia’s largest fossil fish found on ancient inland sea

Peter Michael

August 18, 2011 12:00AM

AUSTRALIA’S biggest fish fossil has been discovered on the ancient inland sea of northwest Queensland.

The 3m specimen of genus Cooyoo, which means fish in the local indigenous dialect, was found in sediment of the 100 million-year-old sea floor near Richmond.

It is the latest prehistoric skeleton unearthed in the Outback treasure trove after last summer’s floods.

“What is spectacular about this specimen is the extent of preserved material,” paleontologist Paul Stumkat said. “That means we now know how large this fish was and the details of its anatomy.”

Mr Stumkat, curator of Richmond’s Kronosaurus Korner, said the holy grail for all vertebrate paleontologists was to find a complete skeleton.

Queensland Museum specimens are only known for heads and vertebra. Now we will have enough scientific material to produce a scientific paper on the body arrangement of this giant predatory fish,” he said.

The fossil was discovered by Canadian volunteers and a 10-person, five-day excavation at the end of June unearthed the specimen. Scientists believe it may rival the complete skeleton of a Xiphactinus, the American ancestor of Cooyoo, found in North America’s ancient inland sea from the Cretaceous period.

That 4m-long sea monster was found with the nearly perfectly preserved 1.8m skeleton of an ichthyodectidae Gillicus arcuatus, inside it. The larger fish apparently died soon after eating its prey, most likely due to the smaller fish struggling and rupturing an organ as it was swallowed.

This site also had skeletons of two unidentified fish, one 70cm long, and a 100cm squid.

Much of Queensland was under an inland sea 100 million years ago when there were no polar ice caps.

Richmond is world renowned as the state’s epicentre of fossil finds.

Last year a giant ichthyosaur, a dinosaur

No, not a dinosaur

marine reptile like a cross between a dolphin and a shark, was unearthed in the state school’s vegie patch.
The outback town, west of Townsville, also is the site of other significant fossil finds such as the kronosaurus – an armoured dinosaur –

No, a kronosaurus was a plesiosaur

and the Richmond pliosaur.

The Cooyoo fossil analysis and preparation is under way and is expected to take weeks before it will go on display.

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