paleontology
A possibe fish fossil from Montauk

I'm wondering if anybody here might be able to help me out. I found this on the deserted, rocky, ocean beach on the south side of Montauk, NY, a little ways east of Ditch Plain, about four miles west of Montauk Point, some years back. I recognized right away that it appeared to be the upper jaw/skull of some kind of marine creature, but had no idea what.

ventral skull of fishAnother view of the fish skull

Location: Near Montauk Point, NY

Collector: Seth

Editor’s note: Seth, this is almost certainly part of a fish skull. Fish bones take on a very strange appearance when no longer attached to the fish. Most likely this is the ventral portion of the skull which would be right above the roof of the fish’s mouth. It is hard to tell from a photograph, but the bone is very white and not the dark color you would expect from a fossil. It is possible that it is the bone of a large modern fish. Please leave a comment if you know more about Seth’s find.

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12 Responses to “Montauk Fish Skull”

  1. Scott says:

    The is comment was posted by Nick but a computer glitch prevents if from being seen. I am re-posting it for him–edito.

    Submitted on 2010/09/10 at 9:33pm

    Seth, your find is indeed something significant and worthy of scientific consideration. But I can’t say much because I’m just a mere starter or, myself also searching for help. And most certainly, I have the same problem as you in establishing names for this remarkable finds. I got lots of this kind of “Medusa-effect” materials from other animals too.
    Best wishes, Nick

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  2. eric riddle says:

    it might be a Robin fish skull i have found those in south carolina though not white but dark
    looks exactly like it

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  3. Seth says:

    Ding Ding Ding!

    I think you nailed it, Eric.

    I had looked at Robin fish (Sea Robin) before, but thought they looked similar, but still substantially different.

    These, however,
    http://ux.brookdalecc.edu/staff/sandyhook/tripdata/creature/fish/skull.jpg
    http://www.fossilweb.com/FossilPages/SpecimenFS311.htm
    look an awful lot like my skull.

    I think what had me so confused is mostly that I thought this looked like a whole head –or at least most of one– when in fact it’s just the front part snapped off forward of the sinus cavities. (Apparently, it’s sometimes called a ‘fish nose,’ and lots of people make this mistake.)

    Thank you very much for helping solve my mystery. You da man.

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  4. Seth says:

    This is why I love the Internet. Thanks, Guys.

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  5. Carol says:

    Having grown up on Long Island, I have to say it is almost certainly not a fossil. Long Island was formed as a glacial moraine, debris pushed by the ice during the ice ages. Any fossil material that may have been present at the time would have been ground to dust under the weight of the ice. No fossils are found on the island.

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  6. Suzanne Idol says:

    It is called a fossilized lizard nose. I have probably near 100 of them that I’ve collected on the beach in South Carolina.

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  7. Sophie says:

    Looks like what I have as well:

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/310783_10100550978860749_806839_59317099_6840269_n.jpg

    https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/298604_10100550987328779_806839_59317249_2733516_n.jpg

    Almost identical to the scanned image of the skull, and also found on the beach on Long Island near Montauk. Any idea of how old this could be?

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  8. Scott says:

    Nice photos. If the bone is at all pliable (if you can mark or bend it anywhere with something like your fingernail), it is not a fossil. Fish skulls are, however, a very interesting find. There is no practical way to determine the age, but more than likely, it is a recent vintage.

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  9. Bill says:

    I think I have the complete top of skull with orbital sockets in tack.
    I can send a picture from my phone, found it on the beach in nj.

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  10. Ronda says:

    I pretty much have come to the conclusion of it belonging to the catfish family because I also own more than one and some of mine are really fossilized to the point they are the color of leather but hard as stone. The reason I think it is from the catfish circle is because I also found a few catfish”crucifixes” and broke the top part of the “crucifix” open and compared the two pieces and unfortunately they were identical twins!

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  11. Lissa Noctis says:

    just clarifying for people: fossilized means that minerals have built up in the bone to the point where there is no bone left, no organic material and is just a stone in the shape of whatever it was before. it’s a specific process. just cause its harder than fresh fish bones doesnt mean its fossilized, just dried out to the point of not being pliant anymore

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  12. Wendy says:

    I find black, gray, and dark brown versions of these fossilized skulls frequently along the coast in Avalon, New Jersey (Cape May County). I have never been able to figure out what they were. This site is helpful. By the way, the color of the fossil is not based on the color of original item. Rather, color is based on the color of the sediment it was buried in. While a white bone is likely not fossil, it is possible to find tan or sand-colored fossils if the sediment was that color. I have a fossil shark’s tooth than is light tan but millions of years old from an extinct species. Fossils, once they are churned up and enter the ocean’s currents, can land on any beach – even a beach on a different continent thousands of miles away.

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