Fossil Stingray Barb. These fish are a unique group of fishes often referred to as “flattened sharks” as they are close cousins to sharks. They belong to a group known as “batoids”.
They had close cousins like the Sawfish.
One of the main features was the tail or Caudal spine. Because it was so sharp it was used for defense. But the barb is not bone it is a modified scale known as a dermal denticle. The barb is a unique weapon but we believe it also could transmit a venom from the mucus coating.
There are many fossils found in rivers in Florida. Several times in it’s history it was covered by shallow salt water seas. Over time the seas drained away leaving sediments full of fossils. As rivers change their course the rivers cut through the soil exposing fossils like this Fossil Stingray Barb. Today many divers swim in the rivers picking up these fish fossils.
Because the earth was full of life, this evidence of a Fossil Stingray Barb is not all that is found. Many other creatures including shark teeth can be found. The public also can find fossils like these by wading in the shallow parts of the rivers using a sieve and sifting the sediment. Because there are alligators in the waters of Florida it is essential to have a lookout watching for dangerous creatures.
This particular Fossil Stingray Barb comes from a species known as a Myliobatis. They were quite common in the Pleistocene period as many of these barbs can be found. They also wash up on beaches in Florida after storms.