Mystery Fossil

Data:A friend in Hungary gave me a fossil of what we think is a conch shell. The fossil was found near the Danube River. I have attached four photos (see below) of the fossil and we would appreciate any information as to what our fossil actually is.

Also could anyone tell us approximately how many years it takes for Mother Nature to make such a wonder? How long ago was this fossil a living creature? Any idea?

Thanks a million.


Send Ideas to: Jack



  • Well your fossil is certainly a gastropod, tough not a "conch" in the strict sense. Conchs, strictly speaking, make up one of many gastropod families. From the top, this shell looks more like a turban shell or top shell than a conch. But the underside with the open space inside is very unusual, and quite unlike modern tops and turbans. Also, I believe this fossil is not a "recent" one, that is to say it's not Pleistocene or Pliocene, and is therefore, I believe, well over a million years old. We do have a couple of folks on the list who are quite expert on fossils. If you should receive more information about your fossil, I'd appreciate it if you could forward it to me, just for my own information.
    Regards, ...Paul M.

  • These look like molds of shells. That is, if you poured plaster of paris into the shell, let it set, then broke away the shell, this is what you would get. Fossils form when the shell dies and falls to the bottom. As sediment covers them, and in this case, fills them, over time it becomes lithified (turns to stone). The age of what you have is hard to dictate without other marker fossils that would indicate an exact age. Hope this helps. ...Jack D.

  • The obviously coiled form is an internal mold, possibly from a trochoid gastropod, but there are many groups that look the same without the shell. The other is possibly the internal mold of a Conus sp. gastropod.
    These shells could be from the Cretaceous to the recent. ...Allen A.

  • Not having a fossil book infront of me, this is a mold of a gastropod. ..SD

  • This is a gastropod internal mold. A geologic map would be helpful in figuring out the age of the snail, but as it doesn't look like a freshwater species it's probaby at least Miocene. I think there are good Eocene to Miocene marine beds in that general region; I have collected marine Miocene in Austria near the Hungarian border. Such preservation can be found in fossils less than a million years old (Pleistocene), so it doesn't take too long, from a geologic perspective, to happen. Most mollusks, as well as some other types of organisms, make their shells of aragonite. This is a crystal form of calcium carbonate that is unstable and crumbles away, turning to calcite, under the right geologic conditions.

    The snail is probably a neogastropod. It's a bit hard to tell whether it is Conus or similar, with the lower part of the internal whorls not preserved, or whether it is more buccinid-like and has a large columella. I suspect the former. Internal molds are often hard to identify. ...Dr. David C.

  • Pleurotomarriidae indeterminable. ...Andrew G.


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