Fish Skeleton Discovery

Paeleobiologist Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), set out with Jorge Velez-Juarbe, NMNH Research Student and Ph. D. Candidate at Howard University and Aaron O'Dea from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on an expedition in Panama to excavate a squalodontid, commonly referred to as a shark-toothed dolphin, in June 2011.

The fossil squalodontid skull was located in the middle of the tidal environment in Panama, exposed to the eroding elements of surf, sun, sand and waves. When the researchers arrived at the site the tide was just going out. They ambled out through the surf and spotted several other interesting fossils along the way: a partial whale skull, shark teeth, and a complete skeleton of a large fish, probably a close relative to a swordfish or a marlin. This fish skeleton was complete from nose to the tailfin! Seen here is segment of the tailfin against a 10cm ruler for scale.

Watch a time-lapse video of the dig, peruse a slideshow, and read Dr. Pyenson's account of the Panama expedition on the Ocean Portal Paleobiology Blog.