The Fossils

Groenlandaspis sp

Pronunciation: Green-land-as-pis
Translation: "Greenland-shield'"
Named after Greenland, where it was first discovered and its well-developed bony armour.
Period: Late Devonian (360-70 million years ago)
Description: small to medium sized armoured fish.
Length - up to 50 cms

Class - Placodermi ('plated-skin' - the armoured fishes)
Order - Arthrodira ('jointed-neck')
Genus - Groenlandaspis
Species - Groenlandaspis sp.

Groenlandaspis 1

In the Devonian

Groenlandaspis is a member of one of the most successful placoderm groups, the arthrodires. Arthrodires are well represented by spectacular fossils from Gogo, W.A., and they include some of the first giant predators to swim in the oceans - Dunkleosteus, from North America, grew to more than 6 metres long.

Groenlandaspis was first discovered in Late Devonian rocks of East Greenland in the 1930s and then, 40 years later, by Dr Alex Ritchie in Late Devonian rocks of Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. It has since been found world-wide on six continents but despite this widespread distribution very few complete specimens were known. In the early 1980s Alex Ritchie's discovery of two small, obscure Groenlandaspis specimens on the first Canowindra fish slab, found in 1956, led to the realisation that the Canowindra site perhaps held more, and better-preserved, Groenlandaspis specimens. This stimulated attempts to rediscover the Canowindra fish site during the 1970s and 1980s but without success.

The 1993 excavation at Canowindra has resulted in the discovery of at least 70 well-preserved specimens of Groenlandaspis which include the finest examples of Groenlandaspis known from anywhere in the world. The species at Canowindra is probably a new species, and is under study by Dr Ritchie. Until it is formally named it is identified as Groenlandaspis sp.