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Left to right: Diplomystus dentatus, Atractosteus simplex (Gar), Priscacara serrata
Excavated, prepared, and designed by In Stone Fossils
Green River Formation
Eocene (52.3 Million Years Old)
Dimensions: 67.5" x 47"
Order Lepisosteiformes, Family Lepisosteidae
Seven living gar species are found in freshwaters of North America, Central America, and Cuba. Of the 4 Fossil Lake gar species, all but one are very similar to modern gars.
M. janei lacked the long jaw and sharp teeth characteristic of modern gars. M janei. teeth were instead rounded and flat, ideal for crushing small invertebrates like snails and crayfish. This gar species is primarily found in association with these fossil invertebrates.
Outside of the FBM, gar scales are much more common fossils than complete skeletons. The gars' characteristic, diamond-shaped scales have historically been used by humans as arrowheads and on protective breastplates. There tough scales offer significant protection from would be predators.
Modern gar species often migrate up rivers to spawn. This is one explanation for the lack of juvenile gar fossils found in the FBM.
Order Ellimmichthyiformes, Family Paraclupeidae
The last known species of the Ellimmichthyiformes order went extinct sometime in the middle Eocene. D. dentatus is a primitive relative of the modern day herring. The genus Diplomystus is also known from fossil deposits in China.
D. dentatus is the 2nd most common fossil fish found from Fossil Lake. Specimens ranging from embryonic size (about 0.7 inches) to full-grown adults (about 26 inches) are common. Smaller-sized specimens are more commonly found in mid-lake than near-shore deposits. This suggests that D. dentatus spawned in open water.
This species' upturned mouth indicates it fed at the surface of Fossil Lake. D. dentatus specimens are commonly found with other fish stuck in their mouths, including other D. dentatus specimens.