Fossil Fishes Collections
The fossil fish collection is the first or second largest in North America, and one of the world's top four. It contains almost 17,000 catalogued specimens, but because fossil fishes are frequently preserved in mass mortalities, the number of individuals in the collection is much higher. Specimen PF 9668, for example, is a slab of limestone with over 200 nearly complete articulated skeletons.… more
The fossil fish collection is the first or second largest in North America, and one of the world's top four. It contains almost 17,000 catalogued specimens, but because fossil fishes are frequently preserved in mass mortalities, the number of individuals in the collection is much higher. Specimen PF 9668, for example, is a slab of limestone with over 200 nearly complete articulated skeletons. The Field Museum fossil fish collection contains representatives of over 250 families and well over 1,000 nominal species. The collection is worldwide in geographic scope and contains material from the Early Ordovician (500 million years before present) through the Quaternary (1-2 thousand years old). The collection includes not only fish fossils from most of the major, well-known fossil fish deposits of the world (Solnhofen, Monte Bolca, Mount Lebanon, Green River Formation, Niobrara Formation, etc.), but also many unusual elements. Major strengths are: Mesozoic and Cenozoic ray-finned fishes, Silurian and Devonian jawless fishes, lungfishes, coelacanths, and placoderms (mostly from western North America), and Pennsylvanian chondrichthyans (sharks and kin) and paleoniscoids from the black shales of Indiana and Illinois. Systematic Coverage-Most major groups are well-represented, with particular strengths in Actinopterygii, Sarcopterygii, Iniopterygii, as well as various extinct Paleozoic shark groups and placoderms.
Geographic Strengths-The collections are particularly strong in material from western North America, including Canada and Mexico, as well as Brazil, the Middle East and Europe, with some coverage of Asia, Antarctica, Australia and Africa.
Type Specimens-The collection contains about 130 holotypes and close to 1,000 paratype and figured specimens.
Pennsylvanian Age Fishes-The Pennsylvanian Collection (approximately 5,500 specimens) is recognized by many paleoichthyologists as one of the world's most important Paleozoic fish collections. Mostly chondrichthyans and paleoniscoids, it includes the country's largest collection (over 1,200 specimens) of nearly complete, articulated chondrichthyan skeletons from the Paleozoic, and contains several undescribed taxa and unique examples of fine preservation. Most of these specimens were obtained from Indiana and Illinois (localities listed in Zangerl and Case, 1973) by Zangerl during the last thirty years, and some of his localities, as well as other Pennsylvanian sites represented in the collection, can no longer be collected.
Tertiary Freshwater Fishes from North America-We have, by far, the world's largest collection of this material particularly from the Eocene. This is a collection of almost 1,500 specimens, and includes the most comprehensive data on the early development of the modern-day North American fish fauna.
Cretaceous Fishes-This is one of the largest collections of Cretaceous fishes including premier collections from Brazil, Israel, Lebanon, Mexico and the United States, and also smaller collections from Antarctica, Europe, South Yemen and Australia. Many of these pieces are "acid-transfer"-prepared, with preservation rivaling osteological preparations of living species.
Devonian Fishes-Amassed primarily by Curator Robert Denison, the collection of Devonian fishes contains well over 4,200 specimens. Most of these are from North America (e.g., Wyoming and Ontario), but we also have strengths in Devonian fishes from Scotland.less
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