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Fish fossil: platysomus striatus, Agassiz

Fossils are the preserved remains of plants and animals from prehistoric times – a natural record of the ancestors of life on earth today. People have been finding fossils in rocks for thousands of years and the clues they left behind have helped scientists understand how the earth and the creatures and plants that live on it today evolved. From the tall, Jurassic cliffs at Saltburn, to the shingle bank at Redcar the North East is a rich site for finding fossil specimens.

Fish fossil: platysomus striatus, Agassiz, Permian age

This fossil of an ancient fish – Platysomus – is from the Permian age and is over 250 million years old. It was found in the Middridge Quarry in County Durham, a site considered to be of international significance because of the number of important fossils found there. It shows the shape and size of the whole fish, which would have been fairly flat with ray fins and thick scales. Studying fossils of scaled fish like this helped scientists understand how teeth, jaws and bones evolved.

Image courtesy of Middlesbrough Museum Service