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General Fossil Information

 

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Fish

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Just as in all of the today’s modern oceans, the fish which swam in the Western Interior Seaway of North America during the Cretaceous Period played a very significant role in the paleo-ecosystem. The large diversity of fish that swam in the Western Interior Seaway supported a vast food chain contributing to the overall paleoecology enjoyed larger marine reptiles. The general body plan of fish has not significantly changed over many millions of years, although some of the fish that swam in the Western Interior Seaway were enormous in comparison to most modern fish. Some of the fish genera found in our collection are those of Enchodus, Ichthyodectes, Pachyrhizodus and its sister genus Elopopsis, the proto-salmon Cimolichthyes and the very large Xiphactinus. Of these, Xiphactinus and Cimolichthyes were the most common. Xiphactinus were the largest fish in size, 2.5 – 4.5m (8-15 ft) in length and weighing a colossal 500-600 pounds! This species, also known as the bulldog tarpon, had a short and blunted head with its jaws full of 1 to 2 inch sharp teeth set to look much like that of a modern bulldog. Most of the fish fossils that are discovered along the Manitoba Escarpment consist primarily of teeth and vertebrae, and are quite abundant. Skull and fin fossils are quite fragile and are more rarely preserved.