Friday, October 29, 2010

Martinichthys bonanza

It appears that our field season in Kansas is about finished for the year. Last week Mike Triebold, Jacob Jett and I went out to Gove County to explore in the lower Niobrara. Collecting was pretty sparse, Jacob and I dug a fairly sizable dry hole looking for the source of a mosasaur. We also collected the partial skull of a very small Tylosaurus that Mike found. Mike also found some fish material and a chunky Pteranodon wing. Jacob's typical luck held up. I wouldn't call it a bust with those results, but luckily I stumbled across a very rare fish skull that made the whole trip worthwhile for me.

Martinichthys is a strange plethodid fish with a characteristic blunt rostrum. Prior to this field season only 2 relatively complete skulls were known. In June I discovered RMDRC 10-024 from around MU 6, which I was excited about. This trip I found RMDRC 10-031 from slightly lower, right on MU 5, thereby doubling the known specimens. 10-031 is interesting because not only does it preserve the skull, but also vertebrae and epineurals. Below are both skulls. They may not look very pretty, but we're excited about them here! A great year for this new fish.

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