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Fossil remains of 60 million year-old extinct fish arrive at Korčula Town Museum

Fossil remains of 60 million year-old extinct fish arrive at Korčula Town Museum

(Photo credit: Branko Jalžić/Slobodna Dalmacija)

The processed fossil remains of fish teeth from the group of the extinct Pycnodontiformes (pycnodonts) fish which were found on the Croatian island of Korčula arrived at the Korčula Town Museum today. 

The sensational discovery was made deep in a cave in Postrana in the village of Žrnovo on the island of Korčula and according to experts, the remains are believed to be around 60 million years old, Dora Lozica wrote for Slobodna Dalmacija. 

The 43-meter-deep Borovčeva cave in Postrana was discovered by chance more than two years ago and during research of it, fossil teeth of fish were discovered, which, after numerous consents and permits, were extracted to the surface by Damir Basara, Branko Jalžić and Milan Vojinović back in March 2021.

60 million year-old fish fossils found in the cave on island of Korčula

(Photo credit: Branko Jalžić/Slobodna Dalmacija)

It was a difficult task to extract the fossil out of the cave, which begins with an awkward, narrow entrance. The speleologists descended to a depth of 35 meters, set up a clay hoop and poured the fossil with a protective rubber. They then sawed and chiselled the rock so that the sample could be safely transported to the surface.

The fossil remains are important for the study of the geological past of Korčula. They were professionally processed at the Croatian Museum of Natural History in Zagreb, and the processing team was led by senior curator Dražen Japundžić and museum advisor Sanja Japundžić, Morski.hr said. 

According to expert processing, fish of the order Pycnodontiformes (pycnodonts) fish lived in shallow seas during most of the Mesozoic Era, spanning 175 million years. Their fossil remains were found all over the world, in deposits from the Triassic to the Eocene when they became extinct. 

60 million year-old fish fossils found in the cave on island of Korčula

(Photo credit: Branko Jalžić/Slobodna Dalmacija)

They are recognisable by their laterally flattened body and well-developed dentition, which consisted of several rows of rounded teeth with thick enamel surfaces. Given the small number of fossils of pycnodont fish, each new find, including this one from Korčula, is a valuable proof of their distribution and important scientific data.

60 million year-old fish fossils found in the cave on island of Korčula

(Photo credit: Branko Jalžić/Slobodna Dalmacija)

Experts said findings in Croatia are sporadic, limited to Upper Cretaceous sediments along the Adriatic coast. The most common species is Coelodus saturnus, found in localities from Pula to the island of Brač. In the collection of fossil fish in the Croatian Museum of Natural History, some of the specimens from this group of extinct fish are kept.

The Archaeological Collection of the Korčula Town Museum will also store archeological finds discovered by chance during the previous research of the Pišurka cave, and their further professional processing is expected.

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