Rare Fish Fossil Discovered in SE Colorado

Mar 11, 2016

The photo above shows a researcher with the first complete fish skull of the Rhinconichthys fossil found on U.S. Forest Service Land.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

Researchers in Colorado have unearthed an extremely rare fossil, reports weather.com. In fact, the fish fossil is one of only three in the world. Paleontologist Bruce Schumacher discovered the complete skull of the fish during a geological survey at the Comanche National Grassland in southeastern Colorado.

Schumacher spotted an odd lump in the rock wall. And when he used a hammer to crack it open, he found what had been the rays of a fish fin. The ancient fish is called the Rhinconichthys (rin-kon-ICK-this), and it lived during the Cretaceous period. The other two Rhinconichthys fossils were found in Japan and the United Kingdom.

Researchers soon realized this was a different sort of fish. It had a large mouth but no teeth. Instead of chomping food, the fish would strain it. And it had big eyes and a lower jaw much larger than its upper jaw. Scientists think this was an eel-like animal, about 10 feet in length.