Palaeobalistum goedeli (Egerton, 1844)
Haqil, Byblos, Lebanon
This extremely rare fossil fish, represented in both positive and negative plates, is an extinct species that has been preserved in perfect detail and symmetry. The matrix is asymmetrical and textured serving to enhance the beauty of the fossils. The specimen displays fine bone and fin structure with no restoration. The teeth are visible in the preservation, and the dorsal and ventral fins are very detailed. The light to dark brown color of the fossil fish is a lovely contrast to the matrix of cream and pale tan. An added bonus is the presence of a few small fossil fish which linger above.
Palaeobalistum is a member of the extinct family of ray-finned fishes known as Pycnodontidae, early ancestors to the Piranhas. They first appeared during the Triassic and peaked during the Jurassic before dying out completely in the Eocene Epoch some 50 million years ago. They were mainly sea dwelling, although some may have lived in brackish water, if not freshwater. This group lacked ganoid scales, and most were as tall as they were long in terms of their shape. They were laterally flattened, and their dorsal and anal fins were long and symmetric. They feature unique dentition whereby they have incisive-shaped teeth in the front and teeth shaped for grazing in back which is a characteristic of this group. Their bodies can be covered by spiny bony plates. Measuring 43 x 35 x 3 cm and 43 x 42 x 3 cm (2)