I am a palaeontologist living and working in Alice Springs, in the red centre of Australia. I moved here with my wife and three kids from Johannesburg, South Africa. I used to focus my research on dinosaurs, and it is fair to say I am still a dino nut but these days I work on fossils from the NT, be they turtles, tassie tigers or anything else. In my spare time I like to watch birds, catch beetles, lizards and snakes and generally find out as much about the species around me as I can.
Worst case of mistaken identity since Aachenosaurus!
OK on with Fish fortnight, Aachenosaurus is an infamous a case of misidentification where some pieces of petrified wood were mistaken for dinosaur bones, and a name was coined for them in the literature. The small pieces of bone in the photos above were also strikingly misidentified in the BPI catalogue as belonging to a dinosaur (though fortunately never published as such). They actually belong to a fish, a ray-finned fish (actinopterygian) to be a little more precise. As fish they are very interesting because the come from the upper Elliot Formation, and as far as I can tell are the first recognized ray-finned fish from this unit (lungfish are known from the odd small toothplate here and there). The upper Elliot Formation was deposited in arid conditions with most of the streams being small and ephemeral. Nonetheless ray-fins can’t cocoon themselves when their pond dries up the way some lungfish can and their presence indicates that some permanent water bodies, however small, existed on the upper Elliot floodplain. That’s all I can say about this fish right now - the fossil will be subjected to further prep and study.