Have you ever heard of the late Miocene and early Pliocene epochs’ salmon that raged in the North American Pacific? This prehistoric salmonid was the most formidable that has ever existed. In an era of time roughly 5-12 million years ago, O. Rastrosus would have shared the ocean with other toothy giants such as the Megaledon shark and the Livyatan, a predatory whale. While it’s nearly impossible to define what it’s physical appearance entailed, one thing that paleontologists know without question is that O. Rastrosus was of immense size in comparison to the salmon species that grace the waters of present day. The only remnants of the salmon that have ever been found are partial skulls, unfortunately. From these fragments scientists have determined that this fish was a massive 2.5-3 metres in length and a mind bending 200-400 pounds.
Once dubbed the sabertooth salmon (Smilodonichthys rastrosus) because of it’s obtuse, protruding canine-like fangs, but now it’s evident that the teeth pointed outward. Spike toothed so to speak now, either way this fish would have been a true warrior on the redds. It’s interesting to ponder about which modern day salmon it would have resembled. The shear size automatically directs ones thoughts to a Chinook/King type build. O. Rastrosus was presumably mainly planktivorous, based on the many long overlapping gill rakers it possessed, coupled with few small unsubstantial teeth. These attributes all polarize toward a grand daddy Sockeye. If it was similar to the O. Nerka, imagine a bright red, jet ski sized fish careening up a river in early autumn, for these fish also began a metamorphosis during their migration, just as all extant salmon do. In fact, all of the specimens taken from freshwater deposits in California had subsequently larger premaxillary teeth that were noticeably worn/blunt from spawning activities.
O. Rastrosus has a minute presence in today’s literature and digital world. Existing depictions have been in small number for far too long. The call was sent out to recreate the largest salmon that has ever existed on planet and it was heard. These artists with their unique styles and mediums have opened up the sketchbooks, aisles and laptops to welcome O. Rastrosus into the hearts and minds of today’s fishophiles. Make sure to check out all the other masterpieces these brilliant, skilled individuals have to offer, below.
Kailee Nelson (@SmallestCatch)
Jake Keeler (@JakeKeeler)
Pavel Francev (@PavelFrancev)
Morgan Frazier (@MorganBrownArt)
Paul Vecsei (@Fish_As_Art)
Dr. Brandon Finnorn (@TheBonnieFly)