Monte Alpi's Fish Fossil – Iannazzo, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Iannazzo, Italy

Monte Alpi's Fish Fossil

A fossil of a 30 million-year-old fish is unexpectedly hidden thousands of feet above sea level. 

Those who know where to look will spot a secret hiding in plain sight on the southern slopes of Monte Alpi. It’s hard to find, but an eagle eye will notice the fossil of an enormous fish barely visible against a large, gray stone slab.

The fossil is said to be a member of the Istiophoridae fish family, most likely a Blue Marlin. It’s believed to be about 30 million years old. The nearly eight-foot-long, three-foot-high fish was first noticed in 1982.

Seeing this long-dead fish is an amazing look back in time. It’s fascinating evidence of when this mountain was submerged beneath the sea.

As it’s not easy to see the fossil between the rocks, bring some water and pour it over the stone slab. Darkening the rock this way makes the fish slightly easier to find, though it still requires a bit of imagination (a nearby sign also helps you visualize what you should be looking for).

The whole of Monte Alpi itself is interesting, too. Situated near the small town of Latronico, it’s one of the highest mountains of the Lucanian range of the Apennines and is one of the most interesting and untouched areas of the mountain range.

Know Before You Go

Coming from Latronico, follow Via Roma past Fraccia locality and take the paved ramp where a sign reads "Istioforide di Monte Alpi." Follow this road for about a mile until you find a lay-by on the right side. Almost in front of this lay-by, on the left side of the road, there is a footpath leading to the fossil.