Two Cockerellites (Priscacara) Fossil Fish - Wyoming
It varied in size. For example, P. liops is a smaller species, never exceeding
150 mm, whereas the larger P. serrata has been found up to 375 mm. Priscacara means, “Primitive head”. These tough looking, ray-finned fish packed a punch if something dared to swallow it. The genus is known for its protective dorsal and anal spines.
50 million years ago, Priscacara thrived in lakes fed by Uinta and Rocky Mtn. highlands. This plucky genus of perch, possibly related to modern-day Cichlids, is now entombed in the fine-grained, lime mud of Fossil Lake. Priscacara eventually went extinct by the end of cooler and drier Miocene (23-5.2 mya).
Today the wonderfully preserved fossils of Priscacara and other Fossil Lake fauna are collected in several private quarries around Kemmerer, Wyoming. The best preserved fish fossils come from the coveted 18 inch layer. This layer is collected at night under high-powered lights allowing the faint signs of fish under the surface to be more easily observed. These “ghosted” fish then must go through many hours of manual preparation to remove the overlying rock and reveal the Green River fauna in all of it’s glory.