This unusual specimen is a rare example of a heliobatis, or stingray, as they are more commonly called, on the same plate with knightia fish fossils. This is one of the rarer finds in the fossil world. Found in the Green River Formation, a fossil reserve in Wyoming, these creatures are between forty and fifty million years old. Finding a heliobatis is a fairly rare occurrence, and to find a good intact specimen is even more difficult. In an average year, between one and three heliobatis fossils are found, which makes them very rare and collectible. This specimen exhibits incredible preservation and amazing detail. It is an authentic piece, meaning that the plate was not constructed, but rather it was found this way.
The Green River Formation is the largest fossil fish find in the world. The area is called Fossil Lake; it was an ancient large lake that was located near erupting volcanoes. The entire area was sub-tropical, unlike the desert-like environment of today. There is no definitive answer as to what caused the mass extinction of these fish specimens, as well as the other species present in the lake, but the theories include, poisonous volcanic gases, temperature fluctuations, and food shortages causing mass death.
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