Cyclobatis major (Egerton, 1884) & Nematonotus bottae (Woodward, 1899)
Haqil, Byblos, Lebanon
This species of stingray is sometimes referred to as "Sun-Fish" because of its quasi-circular shape due to the radial arrangement of the rays of the pectoral fins. These pectoral fins join at the front in a perfect circle, seen dorsally, completely covering the pelvic fins. They have numerous teeth with smooth crowns and slicing carina which are rather small. The present specimen exhibits good preservation showing excellent details of the fins and rays. It can also be seen that this specimen is a male. The difference between male and females is their pelvic fins. Males have two elongated external sexual organs called claspers, which can be clearly seen here near the base of the tail. Effectively, these are two penis-like organs that lie within modified pelvic fins and are used to internally fertilize the female.
Adding complexity to this 100 million year old fossil is yet another rare fossil fish, Nematonotus bottae. Nematonotus is an extinct genus of prehistoric bony fish that lived during the Upper Cretaceous. To find both rare species together, virtually intact and in close proximity on the same matrix is quite a prize.
Fossil stingrays are extremely rare in the fossil record. Their cartilaginous skeleton makes fossilization problematic. The only chance of preservation was to be covered by silt almost immediately following death, before the cartilage along with the soft tissue had a chance to decay. Measuring 32 x 20.6 x 1.7 cm ; Length of stingray 16.7 cm ; length of fish 13.3 cm