Aspidorhynchus acutirostris

Although it was through the discovery of Archaeopteryx that the Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone became famous, the most beautiful of the fossils exposed in the quarries of Solnhofen and Eichstätt are fishes.

Besides sharks, primitive skates, chimaeras and crossopterygians (’tassel-fins’), there are especially frequent finds of Aspidorhynchus.

This Weigert reproduction shows a member of the so-called ganoid fishes. The ganoids had already reached their evolutionary climax in the Permian and Triassic, some 270 - 190 million years ago; today they are few in number when compared with the dominant bony fishes.

The internal skeleton of the ganoid fishes, especially the vertebral column, is only lightly ossified. The massive scales covering the entire body are usually rhomboidal with a glossy surface of ganoin. Aspidorhynchus had a long and beaked mouth. The bill-fish was an efficient swimmer and found an ideal hunting-ground in the Jurassic waters. The enclosing layers of sea-mud, subjected to increasing pressure, dehydration and mineralisation, finally hardened into limestone, the skeleton embedded therein being compressed into a paperthin layer. Only 150 million years later was the fossil brought to light by a quarry worker and fully exposed through the patience and skill of a preparator.

Original: Museum Bergér, Eichstätt, Germany

Due to the technical conditions of the Internet colors, brightness and contrast of the replicas may deverge from the pictures shown.