PETRIFIED RELICS TELL THE HISTORY OF THE EARTH

Coralfish
Mene rhombea (Volta)

This Weigert fossil reproduction shows a juvenile specimen of a Mene rhombea belonging to the Perciformes; it was exposed in strata some 50 million years old at Monte Bolca, about 30 kilometres north-east of Verona. Mene rhombea, the most beautiful species from Monte Bolca, had a very deep, laterally compressed body, a large triangular tail fin and conspicuously long rays in the ventral fins. The mouth opened obliquely upwards; the fish fed on plankton.

The Monte Bolca deposits, abundantly fossiliferous, were formed in a lagoon which was separated from the open sea by coral reefs. At that time, in the Eocene, a tropical climate prevailed and there was considerable volcanic activity. The volcanoes on the nearby mainland erupted periodically, their lavas and ashes covering the land for some time. But volcanic gases also rose from the off-shore sea-bed, producing a marked increase in the temperature of the water and poisoning it at the same time. Many fishes and other marine organisms came to an untimely end, were embedded in the soft mud of the seabottom and were buried beneath further sedimentation. In these deposits, finally petriefied and now raised by orogenic (mountainbuilding) movements to 600 metres above the sea, fossils have been turning up for more than 200 years. The fishes, some 160 different spezies, are the best preserved of these; traces of their vivid colouring occasionally remain. 

Original: Museum of Natural History, Verona, Italy

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