Over 400 million year old fish discovered in China


Guiyu oneiros, the newly discovered species

From Talk Rational! forum:

Zhu, M. et al. (2009) The oldest articulated osteichthyan reveals mosaic gnathostome characters. Nature, 458, 469-474.

The evolutionary history of osteichthyans (bony fishes plus tetrapods) extends back to the Ludlow epoch of the Silurian period. However, these Silurian forms have been documented exclusively by fragmentary fossils. Here we report the discovery of an exceptionally preserved primitive fish from the Ludlow of Yunnan, China, that represents the oldest near-complete gnathostome (jawed vertebrate).

The postcranial skeleton of this fish includes a primitive pectoral girdle and median fin spine as in non-osteichthyan gnathostomes, but a derived macromeric squamation as in crown osteichthyans, and substantiates the unexpected mix of postcranial features in basal sarcopterygians, previously restored from the disarticulated remains of Psarolepis. As the oldest articulated sarcopterygian, the new taxon offers insights into the origin and early divergence of osteichthyans, and indicates that the minimum date for the actinopterygiansarcopterygian split was no later than 419 million years ago.

See also here. And here. And here.

Cartoon depictions of the first animals to emerge from the ocean and walk on land often show a simple fish with feet, venturing from water to land. But according to Jennifer Clack, a paleontologist at the University of Cambridge who has studied the fossils of these extinct creatures for more than two decades, the earliest land vertebrates — also known as tetrapods — were more diverse than we could possibly imagine: here.

2 thoughts on “Over 400 million year old fish discovered in China

  1. Pingback: Prehistoric fish discovery in China | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Ancient sea scorpions, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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