Room 3 – Fish teeth fossil room

Room 3 - Fish teeth fossil room

The third room was inaugurated in 2006 and is named after Dr Andrea Rigoni, a keen naturalist and an unstinting contributor to the Priabonian Study Centre. This room documents a fascinating stage towards the end of the Tertiary period when the African plate collided with the European plate, causing the sea bed to rise. This in its turn induced fractures in the earth’s crust which resulted in volcanic eruptions and the emergence of new islets in the midst of the sea. Coral reefs and atolls were formed, followed by a 200/250-metre-deep lagoon of warm, clean, well-oxygenated and well-circulating water. In addition to the corals, the water was home to a diverse collection of algae and fish in a spectacular range of shapes, colours and sizes. When the sea finally receded (about 5 million years ago) the rock strata, exposed to erosion by chemicals and weathering, was broken down so that enormous caverns were formed. To this day caves like the Buso della Rana and the Poscola yield fossils hitherto locked in the limestone. The room takes the visitor on a tour of exhibits, with splendid examples of fossil corals, fish teeth in a range of shapes and sizes (from 1 mm to 7 cm), cave pearls, siliceous and other pebbles, all accompanied by illustrated explanatory panels. A display of Mummified tropical fish also makes an impressive show.

The room is divided into the following areas:

1) Marine sedimentation with the presence of fossil-bearing limestone and volcanic basalt; physical-chemical alteration by basaltic laterite on limestone; many of the resulting extracted fossils are carried by water into the caves.

2) Illustrations and exhibits of Oligocene fauna: corals, sponges, gasteropods, fish teeth, crabs, …

3, 4, 5) Fossil teeth of tropical fish in Priabona – Sparidae (sea bream), Labridae (wrasse), sharks and rays.

A poster of fossil bryozoa in Triveneto, as displayed at an International conference in New York.

6) Latest arrivals.

7) Formation and growth of coral reefs.

8) Marine algal limestones with sedimentation and coral reefs.

9) How to search for fossilised fish teeth in the Buso della Rana sands.