Nematonutus Cretaceous Fish Fossil

Nematonotus longispinus

Class Actinopterygii, Infraclass Teleostei, Superorder Cyclosquamata, Order Aulopiformes

Geological Time: Middle Cretaceous, Cenomanian Stage (95 million years ago)

Size: 135 mm long

Fossil Site: Lebanese Lagerstatt, Hajoula, Lebanon

Nematonotus longispinusDescription: This plate offers an opportunity to own an example of a fine predatory Nematonotus fish. As they mature, Nematonotus develop a dramatic flag-like dorsal fin extension, hence the generic name longispinus. The dorsal here certainly lives up to that name, demonstrating this is an adult example. The genus became extinct during the Cretaceous. The detail in the caudal fin is remarkable; notice too the fine detail to the vertebral column. There are several partial shrimp of the genus Carpopenaeus present as well, with another on the reverse.

As a member of Infraclass Teleostei (one of the three infraclasses in class Actinopterygii), it is a ray-finned fish. The Teleostei comprises a diverse group that arose in the Triassic period, and has some 20,000 extant species in some 40 orders. By the end of the Cretaceous, teleost fish had come to dominant thre fishes in both marine and freshwater environments. The remaining two infraclasses of Class Actinopterygii, Holostei and Chondrostei, are paraphyletic.

The fossil site near Hajoula, Lebanon where this fish came from is a remarkable Lagerstatt yielding an enormous diversity of exquisitely preserved fossils. The fishes are most notable, but invertebrates are also well represented.

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