200 million-year-old fossil shows mollusk attacking fish

Hyperaxion May 10, 2020

Artifact reveals a specimen of the ancient fish species Dorsetichthys bechei trapped by the tentacles of a Clarkeiteuthis montefiorei (ancestor of the squid we know today).

An electrifying fight between prey and predator can be seen in a 200 million-year-old fossil, according to scientists at the University of Plymouth, UK. The finding was shared in a study published in early May in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.

200 million-year-old fossil shows mollusk attacking fish
(Credit: Malcolm Hart/Proceedings of the Geologists Association).

According to the researchers, the artifact was found in the 19th century on the south coast of England and is part of the collection of the British Geological Survey in Nottingham. In a recent analysis, the team realized that the fossil shows a specimen of the ancient fish species Dorsetichthys bechei trapped by the tentacles of a Clarkeiteuthis montefiorei (ancestor of today’s squid).

The scientists explain that the position of the predator’s “arms”, next to the fish’s body, suggests that the hunt was in fact taking place when the organisms were fossilized. They do not know, however, how the animals ended up fossilized during the predation event.

Above you can see the complete fossil. On the left (A) is the head of the mollusk, while on the right (B) is the fish surrounded by the tentacles of the predator.
Above you can see the complete fossil. On the left (A) is the head of the mollusk, while on the right (B) is the fish surrounded by the tentacles of the predator. (Credit: Malcolm Hart/Proceedings of the Geologists Association).

“This is a most unusual if not extraordinary fossil as predation events are only very occasionally found in the geological record,” said study leader Malcolm Hart in a statement. “It points to a particularly violent attack which ultimately appears to have caused the death, and subsequent preservation, of both animals.”

Related topics:

Fossil

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