From the vault: Fossilized fish rare to area found mostly intact |

From the vault: Fossilized fish rare to area found mostly intact

Caitlin Row
Dinosaur Journey Museum's specimen MWC 5564 is complete, minus the head.
Dinosaur Journey Museum |


WHAT: Dinosaur Journey Museum

WHEN: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

WHERE: 550 Jurassic Court, Fruita

COST: $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.25 for children and $24.50 for immediate family groups


Editor’s note: “From the vault” features fossils and other dinosaur-related historical artifacts currently stored at Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colo.

A fossilized fish — showcasing “thick, interlocking scales and delicate fins” — is rarely discovered intact, said Julia McHugh, Dinosaur Journey’s curator of paleontology. This particular fossil known as specimen MWC 5564, is complete, minus the head.

It’s “a fresh water fish that was discovered in the Late Jurassic Mygatt-Moore Quarry in Rabbit Valley in 2004 by Andrew Milner,” she explained. The fish was found “in a hard thin layer above the dinosaur bones is the ‘fish layer’ where fossils like this are common.”

“Fish are common fossils, however articulated skeletons like this one are uncommon. Fish are uncommon in the Morrison Formation, but when you get a layer with fish in it, they can be very common in that layer.”

According to McHugh, this particular fish was identified by former Dinosaur Journey curator John Foster as “Hulettia hawesi and part of the group Halecostomi, which includes the modern bowfins.”

“This fish was not a bowfin, but in a related group,” she added.

Dinosaur Journey Museum offers a few hundred fish fossils within its walls, both on display and in its archives.

“Many are articulated specimens like this one, and many more are isolated bones and scales,” McHugh noted.

For more information about Dinosaur Journey Museum, visit

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