From the beach at Hampton

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Dr. Barbara Abraham from Hampton University sent this picture to VMNH for identification. This specimen washed up on the beach at the university.

This is the cranium of a fish in dorsal (top) view. It looks like it comes from a black drumfish, Pogonias cromis. Compare the image above to this photo of a Pogonias cranium (from the collections of the  Pogonias cranium (from the collections of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences):

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Pogonias still lives off the Virginia coast, and in fact spawns in Chesapeake Bay, so the Hampton University specimen is probably not a fossil. However, Pogonias does have a long fossil record in Virginia. The two VMNH specimens below are pharyngeal plates (part of the roof of the mouth) from Pogonias. The upper image is from the Carmel Church Quarry in Caroline County, while the lower is from the Potomac River in Westmoreland County. Both are from the middle Miocene Calvert Formation (Bed 14), which is approximately 14 million years old.

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