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The Fossils

Canowindra grossi Thomson 1973

Pronunciation: Ca-noun-dra gros-si
Translation: "Gross's Canowindra"
Named after the type locality and after Professor Walter Gross, who spent his career studying Devonian fishes.
Period: Late Devonian (360-70 million years ago)
Description: Small carnivorous lobe-finned fish
Length - 50 cm

Class - Osteichthyes ('bony fish')
Subclass - Sarcopterygii ('fleshy-fins')
Superorder - Crossopterygii (lobe-finned fishes)
Order - Osteolepiformes ('bony scaled forms')
Family - Canowindridae
Genus - Canowindra
Species - Canowindra grossi

In the Devonian

The only known specimen of Canowindra grossi, discovered near Canowindra, NSW in 1956, lies in the middle of a large sandstone slab, surrounded by more than 100 smaller placoderm fishes ( Bothriolepis, Remigolepis and Groenlandaspis). It was studied and named by Professor Keith Thomson, Yale University in 1973. Canowindra grossi is distantly related to some lobe-finned fishes known from the Northern Hemisphere, but is different enough to be placed in its own family. Its closest relatives are fossil fishes found in Victoria and Antarctica. Since 1956, although about 4,00 additional fossil fish specimens have since been recovered from the Canowindra site, no new specimens of Canowindra grossi have been found.

Like all sarcopterygians, Canowindra grossi could extract oxygen both from water (through its gills) or directly from the air (through its lungs), drawing it in through its nostrils. The air in its lungs may also have helped Canowindra to control its buoyancy in the water. Its body was covered in solid bony scales.

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