Bulldog Fish
 Xiphactinus sp.

 Age  Cretaceous - Occurrence  Uncommon

Xiphactinus was the largest bony fish of the Late Cretaceous, reaching lengths of upwards to 20 feet. A number of fossils specimens have been found with large partially undigested fish inside. This large predator was not capable of biting pieces off its prey and instead swallowed them whole. Like many of the boney fish in the New Jersey area the identifiable fossilized remains of this giant is limited to the teeth and vertebrae. The teeth can be a bit troublesome to identify and easily confused with the teeth of more common Enchodus. Xiphactinus teeth have a double cutting edge and are fluted (flat sections). The fluting is subtle and a strong light may be needed to see it.



Xiphactinus audax fossil in CosmoCaixa Barcelona
(Photo in public domain)



Xiphactinus sp.

Xiphactinus sp.
Look for the double carina and fluting.
Eroded enamel seems common on these teeth.
Monmouth County, NJ


Tooth position will produce some degree of variation but the basic "grasping"
morphology of the teeth remains constant.

scale in mm.


In 1865 Leidy gave a short description of a single tooth found in the Cretaceous marl of New Jersey, thinking it was reptilian he named it Polygonodon vetus. The tooth was later determined to be from a sister species of Xiphactinus audax, raising the issue of which genus name should have priority.
(Photo in public domain)




The most distinct feature of the Xiphactinus tooth is the fluting. This can be difficult
to see, viewing the tooth at various angles under a strong light is the best way
to detect this subtle feature.
I tried to capture the fluting in this picture, you can see the flat plain like section
where the light is reflecting off the tooth.


This would have been a decent sized tooth if not broken.

Return to top of page

Home Site Map Invertebrates Skates and Rays Home