Visit the Ichthyolith Database
Ichthyoliths are the teeth and dermal denticles of bony fish, sharks and rays. They are an abundant, but under-utilized, microfossil group present in virtually all marine sediments with promise for studies of fish responses to past global change, fish productivity, biodiversity, and evolution. The Ichthyolith Taxonomy Database is a web tool for searching our photographic catalog of modern and fossil fish teeth and denticles. You can search the database by keyword, by ‘google-like’ search string, or by basic morphology.
Ichthyolith research began at SIO with work in the 1970’s and 1980’s by Pat Doyle and Bill Riedel. They published extensively on the basic biostratigraphy of ichthyoliths in pelagic marine sediments. Nick Shackleton studied the accumulation rate of teeth in South Atlantic sediments and concluded that tooth flux is likely to record the productivity of fish in the overlying water column. We have followed up this suggestion by examining both the accumulation rate and morphological variety of teeth from the Cretaceous to the present. We have also been dissecting living reef fish and open ocean fish to create a catalog of teeth and denticles that can be compared with fossil material. We believe that fish remains have tremendous potential for unlocking the detailed geologic record of vertebrate responses to past global change, mass extinctions, ocean anoxia, and other events.