STL Science Center

STL Science Center

27 February 2013

Xiphactinus The Swallower

As mentioned previously, the gluttony of Xiphactinus has been to our benefit as a paleontologist community. Finds of Xiphactinus that are fully articulated tend to be quite often associated with other animals stuck in their gullets. There have been plenty of other finds that are simply heads or fins, teeth are popular also, and these remains can be distinguished from other members of the family (Ichthyodectidae) to which Xiphactinus belongs primarily by the fact that Xiphactinus is simply a larger fish than other members of the family (the genera Gillicus and Ichthyodectes). In addition to whole monster fish discovered with stomach contents, or throat contents in some specimens that died while eating, and scavenged remains, there have also been a few Xiphactinus remains discovered as stomach contents themselves in the bellies of larger predators such as the shark Cretoxyrhina; Cretoxyrhina teeth have been discovered in Xiphactinus vertebrae also. Being the largest fish in the sea, the largest bony fish at least, allowed for fairly good preservation and thus discovery of Xiphactinus specimens over the past 150 years in Kansas, in particular, and the remainder of North America that was covered by the Western Interior Seaway.

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