‘Never seen anything like it’: Impeccably preserved Jurassic fish fossils found on UK farm

A farm in England was the unlikely source of a Jurassic jackpot: a treasure trove of fossils 183 million years old. On the outskirts of Gloucestershire in the Cotswolds, beneath ground currently trampled by the hooves of grazing cattle, researchers have recently discovered fossilized remains of fish, giant marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs, squid, insects and other ancient animals dating from the early Jurassic period (201.3 million to 145 million years ago).

Of the more than 180 fossils recorded during the excavations, one of the most notable specimens was a three-dimensionally preserved fish head that belonged to Pachycormus, an extinct genus of ray-finned fish. The fossil, which the researchers found embedded in a nodule of hardened limestone protruding from the clay, was exceptionally well preserved and contained soft tissue including scales and an eye. The 3D nature of the pose of the specimen’s head and body was such that the researchers could not compare it to any other previous find.

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