Puffer Fish Mouth Plates

By Peggy Campbell-Rush

fossils from a fish mouth

I am a die-hard sea glass collector and have been hunting for sea glass all over the world for the past 45 years. Now that I live in Florida, when there is no sea glass to find, I collect shark teeth. I started to find some things that looked like a mouth palate, but I could not quite figure out what they were.

After doing some research, I discovered that they are puffer fish mouth plate fossils. There are several names that this fish goes by: porcupine fish, spiny puffer fish, blow fish, bubble fish, globe fish, well fish, and toad fish. When the fish is threatened it puffs up to twice its size and becomes round by gulping in air and water.

mouth plate of puffer fish

The teeth of this saltwater fish are fused together on a hard plate on the roof of the mouth, which is used to grind and crush foods such as sea urchins, hermit crabs, mollusks, and crustaceans.

Most puffer fish mouth plate fossils found in Florida are from 7 million to 11,000 years ago.

All photos by Peggy Campbell-Rush

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2023 issue.

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