Harpagofututor volsellorhinus Paleozoic Fossil Shark

From the Bear Gulch Mississippian Lagerstatte

Harpagofututor volsellorhinus

Class Chondrichthyes, Order Chondrenchelyiformes, Family Chondrenchelyidae

Geologic Time: Mississippian (~320 m.y.a.)

Size: Fish Fossil: is 130 mm long

Fossil Site: Heath Shale Formation, Bear Gulch Limestone, Fergus County, Montana

Harpagofututor volsellorhinusDescription: The Bear Gulch Limestone of Montana is an important U.S. Paleozoic Lagerstatte, and is particularly famous for fish fossils. It is where Richard Lund and Eileen Grogan discovered and worked over 35 years to describe some 130 fish species, many new to science, including six 65 species of Paleozoic shark. Many fossils exhibit exquisite soft tissue preservation due to putative anoxic conditions in a shallow tropical marine lagoon. Truly a Lagerstätte in the strictest sense, essentially all Bear Gulch fossils are rare given that tons of overburden and shale must be excavation to yield a single fine specimen.

A specimens such as this Harpagofututor volsellorhinus might be found every other field season, at best. Harpagofututor is oftenMale Harpagofututor Fossil Artwork Harpagofututor Fossil Artworkdescribed as having a morphology resembling that of an eel, had few scales, and apparently dined on shellfish. It is considered to be closely related to Chimaeras (Order Chimaeriformes), cartilaginous fishes often called ghost sharks. Interestingly, the Chimaeras are extant and are thought to have diverged from their closest relatives, sharks, some 400 million years ago. Today, Chimaeras live in deep water and are seldom seen. First described in 1982, Harpagofututor's name is related a word for grappling hooks, to denote a structure in males shown in the artwork to the right. This is an exquisite specimen of this ultra rare American Paleozoic shark.

Also see: Chimaeras Echinochimaera meltoni female and Echinochimaera meltoni male from Bear Gulch

Journal of Paleontology, Volume 71, Number 2 pp337-342.


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