Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sea Robin Fish Snout Fossil

In August 2017, I visited Folly Beach near Charleston, South Carolina USA. While there, I spent a number of hours looking for shark teeth on the beach. For all my effort, I found one tiger shark tooth. While at the beach, it was somewhat disorienting looking for fossils. One, I was not sure what color the teeth and other fossils would be, were they white, gray, brown, blue, or black? In addition, I knew there were vertebrate parts of different animals that were phosphate fossils. Also, seashells were plentiful but also distracting from trying to find teeth/skeleton shapes.

So I would tried to find black shapes which I assumed were phosphate. I did not find a lot of them but one that stood out to me is pictured here. I thought it might be some sort of small animal skull. The first picture is the top of the skull. The next image is side view of the bottom of skull turned up. The picture below is view of the bottom of the snout of the skull.

Unfortunately, I did not have any good guides and my poor understanding/knowledge of vertebrate anatomy lead me to no identification. So I bagged the fossil and put it in a box. Last week, I put some effort into finding out what it is. After much searching on the Internet, I determined I had found the snout of a fish called Prionotus (Lacep├Ęde , 1801) aka Sea Robin or gurnard. It probably dates to the Pliocene Epoch and might be from the Goose Creek Limestone. Ironically, I was accessing web pages while staying at a hotel near the beach and on one of the pages was the fossil I had found. Also Sea Robin fish fossils can be common finds on Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico beaches in the United States. If only I known the correct search term to look for in the image databases. Needless to say, I am happy to have finally figured out this mystery and I have a little bit more understanding of fish anatomy.

The picture below is the top of snout with the nose part pointing up. Note the textured pattern plate marking the top.

The next picture is of the fossil back which would be in front of the skull where the eyes and mouth are located. Note the white circles which are bases where more recent corals were growing while the fossil was on the seafloor.

Learn more about the modern Sea Robin fish, a member of the Triglidae family. Note the sea robin is called that because its pectoral fins look like bird wings moving while the fish is swimming.

More about fossils like this at this site:

Learn more about this geological area from a blog by Robert Boessenecker of College of Charleston in South Carolina.