Enchodus (Agassiz 1843)

Age  Cretaceous to Paleocene? - Occurrence  Abundant

E. petrosus (Cope, 1874)
E. ferox (Leidy, 1855)
E. gladiolus (Cope, 1872)

  The fossil remains of the Enchodus spp. found in New Jersey are usually limited to isolated teeth, dermopalatines, and jaw fragments. Two species of Enchodus are commonly found in New Jersey E. petrosus and  E. gladiolus. E. ferox is rare but recent studies indicate this species may have survived into the Paleocene and is worth noting.






Enchodus spp. Characteristics (based on Goody, 1976; Fielitz, 1999b).


Tooth Characteristics

E. petrosus

E. ferox

E. gladiolus

General tooth form



Slightly sigmoidal, more laterally compressed

Tooth striations

Internal surface coarsely

Striated - Outer surface


Inner/outer surface smooth to faintly striated

Both surfaces smooth to

very finely striated

Presence/Absence of a

post-apical barb




Number and position of

carinae on palatine tooth

2 full length placed

anteriorly and laterally

2 full length placed

anteriorly and laterally

1 anterior, full length

Presence/Absence of

serrations on carinae









A highly simplified table of the palatine teeth characteristics. 
E. ferox is rare and will only briefly be mentioned at the end.


E. petrosus and  E. gladiolus
palatine teeth

Left - E. petrosus Right -  E. gladiolus
There is a marked difference in the teeth of these two species, E. petrosus
is the larger of the two species but  normally I just look at the general tooth shape
and for the distinctive barb on E. gladiolus.
Commonality may depend on your collecting methods, I have more examples
of E. gladiolus in my collection but this may be the result of using a finer mesh second
screen in collecting. The teeth of E. petrosus also tend to have little or no enamel and I
don't keep these.  

Enchodus petrosus


E. petrosus

Enchodus petrosus dermopalatine with intact tooth.
Dermopalatine fragments are common, finding these with the palatine tooth
intact is a bit more difficult. The size and presence of two cutting edges makes
this easy to id.
Basal Navesink Monmouth County, NJ 


Plate 1
 Enchodus petrosus

Profile, inside, outside and close-up of striations.

Enchodus gladiolus


Enchodus gladiolus

Enchodus gladiolus

A beautiful specimen.
Monmouth County, New Jersey


Plate 2
Enchodus gladiolus
Left to right
Profile - sigmoidal shape and barb
Inner - striations
Anterior - single cutting edge


Additional photographs

Top Left - Enchodus petrosus dermopalatines
Top Right - Large dermopalatine fragment of E. petrosus
Bottom Left - Large stream worn Enchodus petrosus  tooth
Bottom Right -Jaw fragment, species unknown


Enchodus ferox

E. Ferox
is similar to E. petrosus except it is smaller and the carinae serrated. I've
only found a single tooth although this could be the result of where I collect. 
E. Ferox is known from the Paleocene in Europe and the same is suspected in North America but as of yet, the few specimens that are purportedly from Paleocene sediments are very questionable.

Lateral E. Ferox identified by Dave Parris from the New Jersey
State Museum.
Found at Inversand, it's impossible to be sure of the exact formation. 


Selected References

Goody, P.C., 1976, Enchodus (Teleostei: Enchodontidae) from the Upper Cretaceous
Pierre Shale of Wyoming and South Dakota with an evaluation of
North American enchodontid species: Palaeontographica, v. 152, p. 91112.

Schein, J.P., 2004, The teleost fish Enchodus and the paleoceanography of Upper
Cretaceous rock units in Alabama [M.S. thesis]: Auburn, Alabama, Auburn University, 156 p.

Fielitz, C., 1999, Phylogenetic analysis of the family Enchodontidae and its relationship
to Recent members of the order Aulopiformes [Ph.D. thesis]:
Lawrence, University of Kansas, 86 p.


Return to top of page

Home Site Map Invertebrates Skates and Rays Home