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Leedsichthys is a giant member of the Pachycormidae, an extinct group of Mesozoic bony fish, that lived in the oceans of the Middle Jurassic period. The first remains of Leedsichthys were identified in the nineteenth century. Especially important were the finds by the British collector Alfred Nicholson Leeds, after whom the genus was named "Leeds' fish" in 1889. The type species is Leedsichthys problematicus. Leedsichthys fossils have been found in England, France, Germany and Chile. In 1999, based on the Chilean discoveries a second species was named, Leedsichthys notocetes, but this was later shown to be indistinguishable from L. problematicus. Leedsichthys fossils have been difficult to interpret, because the skeletons were not completely made of bone. Large parts consisted of cartilage that did not fossilise. On several occasions the enigmatic large partial remains have been mistaken for stegosaurian dinosaur bones. As the vertebrae are among the parts that have not been preserved, it is hard to determine the total body length. Estimates have varied wildly. At the beginning of the twentieth century a length of nine metres was seen as plausible, but by its end Leedsichthys was sometimes claimed to have been over thirty metres long. Recent research has lowered this to about sixteen meters for the largest individuals. Skull bones have been found indicating that Leedsichthys had a large head with bosses on the skull roof. Fossilised bony finrays show large elongated pectoral fins and a tall vertical tail fin. The gill arches were lined by gill rakers, equipped by a unique system of delicate bone plates, that filtered plankton from the sea water, the main food source.

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