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Avid outdoorsman and underwater photographer, Barry Brown has spent the last 12 years documenting life above and below water in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. He is currently working with the Smithsonian Institution documenting new Caribbean deep-water species and building a one of a kind database. His underwater images can regularly be seen in Sport Diver, Scuba Diver and on the Ikelite website. His image of a "Collage of Corals" seen under blue-light at night recently placed in the TOP 10 images for the 2014 NANPA (North American Nature Photographers Association) photo contest.

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Feb 4, 17     Comments Off on Fossil Sting-Ray, Heliobatis Radians, Asterotrygon, Fossils

Good morning friends, Aimee, the three dogs and yours truly just returned from the annual 2017 Tucson Gem and Mineral show. Now that I have spent years underwater I find myself more attracted to the underwater fossils more than ever and when I found this rare sting-ray I of course went crazy and had to photograph it! This was a large ray measuring around or close to 24 inches from top to bottom and cost around $10,000, more than I had with me… We spent days walking around looking at gems, minerals and fossils from all over the world but most pieces were way out of our budget, I think Aimee ended up with a sterling silver ring with a tiffany jasper (lavender) cabochon and I bought a colorful tripod bag from Tibet. 

While in Tucson I went out to help the SDMB association “Sonoran Desert Mountain Bike” help build a new trail at Star Pass which should be open sometime this year. I got up early two mornings in a row at 7:00 and rode the bike “burrrrrrrr” to Star Pass and met a group of around 40 other volunteers and worked swinging a pick for four hours each day, it was super fun and very rewarding. We found Tucson to be very unfriendly place for dogs meaning cacti cover every square inch of this area, rough rocks, dogs have to be on lease on any and every trail and you have rattlesnakes and coyotes everywhere, no thanks! With that said the mountain biking is tops!

Heliobatis is an extinct genus of ray in the Myliobatiformes family Dasyatidae. At present the genus contains the single species Heliobatis radians.

The genus is known primarily from the Early Eocene, Wasatchian stage, Fossil Lake deposits. Fossil Lake is part of the Green River Formation in southwest Wyoming. Heliobatis is one of only two known rays to have been found in the Green River formation; the other species, Asterotrygon maloneyi, was only recognized and described in 2004.

The genus was described from a single incomplete holotype specimen, number YPM 528, currently residing in the collections of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. The specimen was collected from an outcrop of Fossil Lake and presents a dorsal view of the fish. It was first studied by prolific American paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. He published his brief 1877 type description in the American Journal of Science. Two years later Edward Drinker Cope, rival to Marsh, published a description for a ray specimen giving it the name Xiphotrygon acutidens. though the description by Cope is more complete and includes an illustration of his type specimen, the old name Heliobatis has seniority. In 1947 Henry Weed Fowler published a very brief description of a ray genus he dubbed Palaeodasybatis discus based on a partly restored Academy of Natural Sciences specimen, number ANSP 89344. The specimen, which was subsequently lost, was noted for having a more rounded or disc like body than Heliobatis. The genus was synonymized with Heliobatis based on illustrations of Fowler’s type specimen, characterizing the more rounded appearance as an artifact of the incomplete nature of Marsh’s holotype.

The generic epithet Heliobatis is a derivation of the words helios meaning “the sun” and batis, meaning “skate” or “ray.” The derivation of the specific epithet radians is not mentioned in Marsh’s description.

Heliobatis ranges from 8 to 90 centimetres (3.1 to 35.4 in) in length, with an average of between 30 and 40 centimetres (12 and 16 in). As in modern stingrays the genders are dimorphic, with males possessing claspers. Heliobatis individuals have up to three modified dermal denticles, forming barbed stingers, on their tails, though individuals are often found with less than three. The genus is considered to have been demersal in nature. As in the modern skate genus Raja the teeth of Heliobatis are small and closely spaced. The teeth are triangular and shaped for feeding on small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Heliobatis is notably abundant at the same site on Fossil Lake where the only Green River Formation crayfish, Procambarus primaevus, and prawns Bechleja rostrata are found. The genus has a long tail which is very slender, often missing the tip, sporting small spines along the dorsal midline. The tail provides up to half of the total body length.

Lots to do…

Barry

 

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