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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
World's biggest fish on display
by Stephanie Todd
BBC News Online Scotland

Jeff Liston
The bones of the fish have been slowly restored
A skeleton of the biggest fish ever to inhabit the world's oceans has been put on display in Glasgow.

The fish, a leedsichthys problematicus - or Big Meg as the fossil has been nicknamed - measures more than 15 metres in length.

Experts believe it would have swum the Middle Jurassic seas 155 million years ago, at a time when dinosaurs dominated the land.

With more than 900 bones collected, Big Meg is said to be the most complete specimen in any collection in the world.

The skeleton was sold to the Hunterian Museum, now part of Glasgow University, in 1915 by the Peterborough fossil collector Alfred Leeds, whose wife Mary Ferrier Fergusson came from Glasgow.

Jeff Liston, vertebrate researcher at the Hunterian Museum, said work to repair the specimen only began five years ago.

But he said after much reconstruction, Big Meg looks a little more like a fish with many large bones from the her skull, as well as some bones from the fins.

Fossil
Part of a skull bone was found encased in clay
Mr Liston said: "The dorsal fin alone is over a metre long. The really large marine animals of today like whale sharks or basking sharks feed on plankton, which is what we believe Meg did.

"There are no teeth on this fish, but it had huge amounts of gill rakers which it would use to filter plankton and small prey from the water."

The fossilised fish has now been put on display at the museum.

It is also due to be the subject of a forthcoming television programme in the BBC's next Walking with Dinosaurs series.


SEE ALSO:
Giant rodent astonishes science
18 Sep 03  |  Science/Nature
Sea monster with a toothache
06 Feb 03  |  Science/Nature
Fossil hints at India's mythical river
02 Dec 02  |  South Asia
All creatures great and small
29 Sep 02  |  Science/Nature
Fossil was 'first walker'
03 Jul 02  |  Science/Nature


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