The Phillippolis area is renowned for its rich fossil finds. The discoveries of a fossilised fish, a fossilised fish bed, reptile fossils and various fossilised footprints prove that this area was once located at the bottom of a large lake.
The Philippolis fish fossil belongs to the Order Palaeonisciformes, which is the earliest order of ray-finned ( actinopertygian ) fish.
This order had its beginnings about 400 Million years ago, and attained maximum development in the period 360 - 240 million years ago. Today the Sturgeon (known for its caviar) is one of the few living examples of this ancient order.
What was typical of the Order Palaeonisciformes was the thick, enamel covered scales, known as ganoid scales. The bodies of the fish where covered with a layer of these scales which would have been almost like an armor plated covering, protecting them prom predators but making movement difficult.
The Philippolis fish fossil is about 280 million years old, from rocks of the Lower Karoo Supergroup. It belongs to a group of deep bodied primitive actinopterygian fish.
The body was laterally compressed and dorso-ventrally deepened. These deep bodied fish lived in streams with thick vegetation and/ or reefs (the deep narrow body helped the fish maneuver between plants and /or crevices in the reef, thereby protecting them from predators).