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Green River Fossil Fish


Introduction



The Green River Formation of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming is one of the World's best locations for finding fossil fish. These Eocene fossils were preserved in intermountain lake basins while the Rocky Mountains were still growing! Photos by the National Park Service - Fossil Butte National Monument.

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Green River fossil fish
Mooneyes are scarce in the Green River Formation. Like its modern relatives, it probably preferred river and stream environments and occasionally wandered into Fossil Lake. National Park Service photo.


Green River fossil fish
Knightia eocaena is perhaps the most common complete vetebrate fossil in the world. It is Wyoming's state fossil. National Park Service photo.


Green River fossil fish
Unlike its filter-feeding modern North American relative, Crossopholis was a predatory fish. National Park Service photo.


Green River fossil fish
In Fossil Lake, the deep-bodied Knightia alta is less common than Knightia eocaena. National Park Service photo.


Green River fossil fish
The mouth of Mioplosus, an extinct perch-like fish, was lined with numerous tiny sharp teeth. This aided in grasping prey, but also prevented them from expelling fish too big to injest. National Park Service photo.



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Green River fossil fish
Large teeth and rear-placed fins make Phareodus encaustus well suited for catching and eating other fish. National Park Service photo.




Green River fossil fish
This fossil fish was not found in a mass mortality (beds that contain hundreds of fish on one surface) suggesting it did not die in a catastrophe. It most likely died from starvation or suffocation because it could not spit the Knightia out. (Diplomystus is approximately 17 cm long). National Park Service photo.


Green River fossil fish
Mass mortalities suggest this fish was a schooling fish. Although it closely resembles a modern sunfish, it is unclear to which family it belongs. National Park Service photo.


Green River fossil fish
Knightia eocaena was a schooling fish. This specimen is from the sandwich beds where several mortality beds of adult fish are found. National Park Service photo.


Green River fossil fish
Priscacara liops occurs in at least one mass mortality layer indicating it was a schooling fish. National Park Service photo.


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