Mene rhombea, VOLTA, 1796
Middle Eocene (approx. 45 million years ago)
Monte Bolca, near Verona, Italy
Representing an assemblage of the earliest known coral reef fishes, specimens found in the Lagerstätte (German meaning "storage place") of Monte Bolca, northeast of Verona, are highly valued. Monte Bolca was one of the first sites of high quality fossil preservation discovered in Europe. The Monte Bolca deposits were formed in a lagoon, which was separated from the open sea by coral reefs. Volcanic activity on the nearby mainland produced lava and ashes that caused mass extinctions, explaining the abundance of fossils in this area. The fine-grained limestone and amazing preservation suggests that the animals were rapidly buried in an anoxic (oxygen deprived) environment, allowing for beautiful fossilization. This uplifted ancient sea floor was created during the formation of the Alps—has been the source for remarkably well-preserved fish fossils for hundreds of years.
As seen in the present specimen, Mene rhombea is closely related to the modern moonfish. A deep-bodied fish, it displays unusual pelvic fins far forward on the body, which are reduced to spines. An extinct perciform (perch-like fishes) they had a flattened body, triangular tail fin, and an upturned mouth. This species is arguably one of the most aesthetically pleasing of all the Monte Bolca fishes. The present specimen displays a compressed diagonal impression due to tectonic forces. Its irregularly shaped rock plaque is highlighted with soft tan and light gray color tones. Length of the fish, on the diagonal: 18 cm. Matrixes measuring 33.3 x 29 x 2.3 cm and 39.5 x 30 x 3 cm (2)
Provenance: Property of a German Collector
Lit: Sorbini, Lorenzo, I FOSSILI DI BOLCA, Verona, 2007/V, tav/ 1.