The Fish review

How the review works

The aim of the review is to establish material that is of scientific merit and specimens which are good representatives, possessing public potential for display and community events. These two criteria do not necessarily go hand in hand; as a specimen may have a fantastic scientific research potential, but may not be visually impressive. Therefore the specimens are graded against two separate criteria: Scientific Merit (as a numerical value of stars) and Public Engagement (as a Gold, Silver or Bronze status).  For a more in depth look into the review criteria, click on this link. Review Criteria.


The fossil fish collection consists of 18 trays containing 204 specimens from the Carboniferous, Jurassic, Cretaceous and Eocene with occasional Devonian and Miocene material. They are predominantly from the England, Scotland, Italy and Germany, with a few specimens from Lebanon and the USA. The bulk of the collection is stored in the archives at the Discovery Centre, with a few specimens on display at Leeds City Museum.


catch of the day

Dr John Clarke led the two day review, conducted as a systematic, tray by tray investigation, resulted in the discovery of some interesting specimens and oddities. The results of this review will occur as an overview, with some of the highlights below.


The Gold specimens




An incredible, near complete specimen of a large Megalichthys hibberti  (3 Gold stars – Leedm.B.1883.12) preserved on its back, from the Carboniferous. Found in Yorkshire, England.


The Silver specimens


Leedm.B.1979.06.0129 (left)


Leedm.B.1979.06.0129 (right)

A wonderful disarticulated head specimen of a Cretaceous Hoplopteryx lewesiensis (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0129) from Lewes, Sussex, England. Both left and right sides photographed.





An interesting Eocene specimen of Berybolcensis leptacanthus (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0078) from Monte Bolca, Italy. Specimen has suffered some damage with repair.




A well preserved and near complete Eocene specimen of a Mene rhombeus (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0165) also from Monte Bolca, Italy.




Another well preserved and very interesting Eocene specimen of a Ductor venstenae (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0152) from Monte Bolca, Italy.




A wonderful Jurassic specimen of a Callipurbeckiidae (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0140) with well preserved features, from Wiltshire, England. Specimen has suffered some damage.




A wonderful Jurassic specimen of two Leptolepis sprattiformis (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0164) from the Solnhofen, Germany. Currently on display at Leeds City Museum.




A curious Eocene specimen of a Sparnodus? microstomus (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0076) from Monte Bolca, Italy. Identification is uncertain, as the specimen may be a composite of two fossils.




A well preserved, but curious Jurassic specimen of a Lepidotes semiserratus (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.TN5165) from the Lias, Whitby, North Yorkshire, England. Featuring a three dimensionally preserved articulated head. Curiously, at some point in the past this specimen has been reconstructed and exhibited the wrong way up, as a coelacanth.





The Bronze specimens


Leedm.B.1979.06.0124 (left)


Leedm.B.1979.06.0124 (right)

A good three dimensionally preserved head specimen of a Cretaceous Thrissopater? megalops (3 Bronze stars – Leedm.B.1979.06.0124) from Lewes, Sussex, England.




An interesting and nicely preserved Eocene specimen of a Holocentrum macrocephalum (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0112) from Monte Bolca, Italy.




A nicely preserved specimen of a Jurassic  Leptolepides sprattiformis. (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0160) from the Solnhofen, Germany.





An interesting, near complete Jurassic specimen of a Pholidophorus pachysomus (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0008) from Lyme Regis, Dorset, England.




A nicely preserved Carboniferous specimen of a Osteolepis sp (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0086) from England. Specimen has suffered some damage.




A well preserved and near complete Cretaceous specimen of a Macropoma mantelli (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0088) from Lewes, Sussex, England.




A rare and nicely preserved specimen of a Jurassic Athrodon sp (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0156) from Germany.




An interesting and nicely preserved Jurassic specimen of a Dapedium sp (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.003) from Lyme Regis, Dorset, England. Specimen has suffered some damage now repaired.




A wonderful Eocene assemblage of numerous Gosiutichthys sp (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1985.05.03) specimens, from Green river, Wyoming, USA. On display at Leeds City Museum.


The clear specimens




An interesting and nicely preserved Cretaceous specimen of a Hoplopteryx lewesiensis (1 Clear star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0042) from Lewes, Sussex, England.




A fair Cretaceous specimen of a Ctenothrissa radians (1 Clear star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0127) from Lewes, Sussex, England.





A fair, incomplete, Devonian specimen of a Cheiracanthus sp (1 Clear star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0015) from Gamrie, Banffshire, Scotland.


The review covered 204 specimens, establishing the following summary.

fish summary

Gold = A truly amazing specimen; Silver = A very good specimen that has great potential; Bronze = A good specimen which can demonstrate a particular feature; Clear = A specimen that has limited visual qualities.

3 stars = High scientific importance; 2 stars = Moderate scientific importance; 1 star = Fair scientific importance; 0 stars = Supported by limited or no documentation.




John in storeThe collection of fossil fishes in the Leeds Discovery centre is relatively small, totalling 18 trays. Roughly 8 of these contain micro or fragmentary remains, while 10 contain articulated specimens. The specimens are well stored and cared for. The curator continues to update the information for the specimens based upon more recent identification information, and efforts are being made to digitise parts of the collection. All the specimens are easily accessible for study.



The collections feature numerous articulated specimens in perfectly suitable condition for various types of trait measurement, from several well-known Lagerstätten. Most notable are specimens from the English Chalk, of which there are around 8 articulated specimens with intact heads and two with postcranial, along with more fragmentary material. There are also 5 articulated specimens from Monte Bolca, including Berybolcensis leptacanthus, Mene rhombea, Blochius longirostris, Ductor vestenae and cf. Sparnodus. Five or six specimens from the Devonian of Scotland are worthy of further examination, as is the collection of Lower Jurassic ‘pholidophorids’ (~8) and Dapedium (~5). Other articulated specimens are typically the sole representative of their deposit in the collections.



Many specimens lack provenance and stratigraphic details, obscuring the potential historical importance of the collection. Because it is difficult to trust the locality information of many specimens, the scientific value of the collection is also reduced, as few firm claims that hinge upon site information can be substantiated. Nevertheless, the matrix of numerous taxa can be relatively well matched to famous sites, and so can still be utilized to some degree.


The fossil fish, along with all the other collections are open and free for anyone to view by appointment, just call Leeds Discovery Centre on 0113 378 2100 or email


I would like to take this opportunity to thank John for this review over two great days, and for his invaluable help identifying and updating taxonomic names.


Posted on May 13, 2016, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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