Page last updated at 09:50 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 10:50 UK

'Exciting' fossil find in quarry

Actinolepis (Pic: SNH)
The actinolepis specimen was found in Caithness

The first recorded fossil find in Scotland of a prehistoric armour plated fish has been made in a former roof slate quarry.

Actinolepis was found by an amateur collector some time ago, but was identified by experts after an image of it appeared on a website.

The discovery was made in Achanarras Quarry, near Halkirk, Caithness, a site owned by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Rock in the area dates back to 380 million years ago.

At that time, Scotland lay between 20 and 30 degrees south of the equator.

Mike Newman and Nigel Trewin of the University of Aberdeen have published details of the find in the Scottish Journal of Geology.

Scottish Natural Heritage described the find as "exciting".

Actinolepis, a group of fossil fish known as placoderms, was an armoured prehistoric fish dating from the Devonian Period, about 420 to 360 million years ago.

Its head and upper body were covered by armoured plates and the rest of the body was scaled or naked, depending on the species.

Placoderms were also among the first jawed fish to evolve.

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