The Fossils

Gooloogongia loomesi Johanson and Ahlberg 1998

Pronunciation: Goo-loo-gong-ee-a loo-ms-i
Translation: "Loomes' Gooloogong"
Named after Bruce Loomes, foreman of the 1993 Canowindra excavation, and after the nearby town of Gooloogong, NSW.
Period: Late Devonian (360-70 million years ago)
Description: Large carnivorous lobe-finned fish
Length - up to 90 cm

Class - Osteichthyes ('bony fish')
Subclass - Sarcopterygii ('fleshy-fins')
Superorder - Crossopterygii (lobe-finned fishes)
Family - Rhizodontidae ("rooted-tooth")
Genus - Gooloogongia
Species - Gooloogongia loomesi


In the Devonian

Gooloogongia, the fourth species of lobe-finned fish described from Canowindra, was named by Dr Zerina Johanson and Dr Per Ahlberg in 1998. Gooloogongia is rare at Canowindra, being known from only 3 specimens. It is an early member of the rhizodont family of sarcopterygian fishes, which take their name from the strongly rooted teeth in the jaw. Some rhizodonts were huge predators reaching over 6 metres in length and Gooloogongia loomesi is the most complete rhizodont yet found anywhere in the world.

In general size and shape Gooloogongia is similar to the modern (and completely unrelated) Saratoga which lives in the tropical rivers of northern Australia. Saratoga can be aggressive feeders, and take a broad diet of fish, insects, and other animals. Whether Gooloogongia had a similarly broad diet is unknown. Like other lobe-finned fishes, Gooloogongia had two rows of teeth in the jaw; an outer row of small teeth, and an inner row of larger fangs. The fangs of Gooloogongia are sharp and needle-like, but they were probably not strong enough to penetrate the armour plating of the larger placoderms that also lived in the Canowindra fish community.