The fossil fish is one of the bony ray-finned fishes of the Eocene period of Morocco, at least that is where this particular fossil was discovered. Morocco, situated in modern-day North Africa was once part of Gondwana and later Pangea before they broke up and formed the west, east Gondwana and Laurasia and fossils of the period may be discovered in North Africa and South America. It is also not unusual to locate remains of the bony ray-finned fish right here in the United Kingdom, reinforcing the theory of shifting continents and the tectonic plates.
Once the whole region of North Africa was underwater, seas filled with marine life. Khouribga is the capital of the Khouribga Province in the Béni Mellal-Khénifra region near Casablanca and is the administrative centre of a huge phosphate mining industry run by the state. The by-product being extraordinary fossils of the Cretaceous to Paleogene periods.
Osteoglossiformes, from Greek meaning; bony tongues, the primitive order of early ray-finned fishes having first appeared in the fossil record from Gondwana before the supercontinent broke up. Gondwana separated from Laurasia around the middle Mesozoic era in the breakup of Pangaea. Brychaetus muelleri closest living relative is a giant freshwater fish Arapaima gigas, from South America. A similar fossil fish head discovered from the Isle of Sheppey is housed in the Natural History Museum collection, London.
The fossil skull element exhibits several attributes which merit the accolade of a rare discovery, the teeth well defined, the articulated and fine bone jaws preserved for over 50 million years. The fossilised bone elements have attractive colours, the hint of rose over white skull plates. Overall this is an exceptional fossil find unearthed from an excellent fossil stable, the site of Ouled Abdoun, the phosphate beds of Morocco.
The whole now set by the fossil store onto a bronzed plinth, this in the form of bronze clasps which hold the skull in place, the fossil easily removed for study and shipping. This type of mount allows the original fossil to be exhibited safely and set in a most advantageous way.