300-million-year-old fossil fish resident returns to Bude Castle Heritage Centre

By Ralph Gifford | 19 June 2011
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a photo of a fossilised fish showing its scales
Cornuboniscus budensis had sharp teeth and could eat crabs© Natural History Museum
The Castle Heritage Centre in Bude is to display a 300 million-year-old fossil thought to be the town's oldest resident.

Cornuboniscus budensis is roughly the size of a sardine and has only ever been found in the Bude area, making it entirely unique to Cornwall. 

"The first fossil fish was discovered in 1932 and only a few more have been found since," explains Geologist Roger Higgs.

"The example at Bude has been very kindly lent by the Natural History Museum in London and is of great scientific value because of its age and rarity."

The fossil fish has sharply serrated front teeth and unusually high pectoral fins. 

Mr Higgs said that in 1985, he found fossil trails of shallow trenches around Bude that could only have been made by a fish ploughing through the mud with its chest.

Analysis established that the fish's high pectoral fins allowed it to burrow through the mud. Fossil trails of small crab tracks were also found, which explain the razor sharp teeth, which could be used to bite into the crabs' shells.

The Bude fossil fish is one part of the History of Cornwall in 100 Objects project, which has been set up by Cornwall Museums Group to promote the county's rich and varied history.

  • The Castle Heritage Centre is open all year. For further information follow the venue details below. 
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