Andy Moore of Elkhorn, Nebraska, may not have done well in a recent fishing tournament on the Missouri River, but he snagged the biggest catch of the day: a 90-million-year-old “bulldog fish” fossil.
After a lousy cast, his lure hung up on a rock, so he paddled his kayak over to free it up. He spotted some bones that he assumed were recent remains of a deer or catfish, snapped a quick pic, and returned to fishing.
He didn’t think much of it until he got home and posted the snapshot on social media. "I don't know what it is. I thought, it's just a skeleton from like a year ago," Moore told KETV. His friends knew better, and his phone and DMs started blowing up with exclamations along the lines of, “Dude, do you know what that is?!”
With his friends telling him that he’d found an ancient fossil, he decided to contact the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls that stretch of the river just west of Yankton, SD. They confirmed that it was the fossilized remains of an extinct Xiphanticus audax, or “bulldog fish”, that ranged across the shallow sea that covered large portions of North America during the Cretaceous period.
The bulldog fish was a ferocious predator, growing up to 20 feet long and anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pounds. This makes it one of the largest fish to roam the North American seas during that period, and it likely fed on anything that would fit into its considerable jaws that were lined with fang-like teeth more than 3 inches long.
When describing why he fishes to WOWT, Moore seems to be the perfect angler to stumble over a fossil find like this one. “It’s the feeling you get when that fish bites your line,” Moore said. “It’s that primordial jolt you get in your spine, and it goes right to your brain.”
Feature image via Andy Moore Photo, Nebraskaland Magazine.