Bulgaria's Predator Fish Fossil Confirmed to Be Unknown Species

Society » ARCHAEOLOGY | October 15, 2010, Friday // 16:24
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's Predator Fish Fossil Confirmed to Be Unknown Species The fossil of the unknown species of predator fish found at the end of September. Photo by BTA

The 200-million-year-old fossil of a predator fish found during the construction of the Lyulin Highway in Western Bulgaria has been confirmed to belong to a previously unknown species.

This was confirmed after initial tests were carried out by Bulgarian zoologists and paleontologists, announced the head of the Pernik Regional History Museum, Emiliya Velinova.

The rock containing the fish fossil was dug out during construction works at the end of December and is already on display in the Regional History Museum in the city of Pernik, which was contacted immediately by the two workers that stumbled upon the find - Emil Mitushev and Dimitar Borisov.

Local archaeologists believe the fish got stuck in the slime as a local body of water, which occupied the area around Pernik, dried out; subsequently, the slime turned into rock, preserving the fossil.

Geological data shows that the body of water – and respectively the fish – existed in the region during the Triassic period, 250-200 million years ago. The fossil is 58 cm in length.

The only fossils that had been found so far in the mountainous Pernik region, right to the West of Sofia, had been of ammonites and echinoidea dated to the Triassic.

A few days after the discovery of the unknown predator fish, 30 other fish fossils were found by construction workers on the route of the Lyulin Highway.

Only three of the 30 fossils are fully preserved. They are from the long extinct species dapalis macrurus, and are believed to be 34 million years old, dating back to the Oligocene period (34-23 million years ago).

Millions of years ago, the area of the city of Pernik, right west of Sofia, used to be a giant lake, hence the fish fossils. The Lyulin Highway is being built mostly through mountainous terrain.

Velinova said the Bulgarian authorities are going to ask foreign paleontologists for help with the study of the fossils as Bulgaria does not have specialists in such ancient species.

The fossil "deposit" located at the 16th km of the highway will be studied extensively. The local authorities are considering building a small "open-air" museum on the spot by exhibiting replicas of the fish fossils.

All of the original fossils are displayed in the Pernik History Museum under strict security measures.

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Tags: fossil, fish, Oligocene, Pernik, Lyulin highway, paleontologists, archaeologists, Triassic, Oligocene, prehistoric
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