Ancient fish fossils found, early jawed vertebrates

un antico fossile di pesce con la mascella

In southern China, strange fossils have been found that are a real window. history of all vertebratesincluding us humans. Their quirks are immediately apparent: the little ones fish with bones and teeth It has never been seen before and is from 439 million to 436 million years ago. With the diversity and features that have hitherto been only hypothesized by scientists, but for which we finally have tangible and observable evidence.

A sensational discovery on the first vertebrates

published work Nature it was really exciting and caught the attention of just about everyone, professionals and others. Because they have always explained and taught us that evolution has led some fish to develop the characteristics they have as invertebrates. “transformed” into vertebrateshowever, until now it has not been possible to observe or study remains large and complete enough to prove this. At least its origin more than 400 million years ago.

Genetic analysis of these fossils has allowed paleobiologists to date the site (called Chongqing Lagerst├Ątte) with great accuracy, thus tracing it back to the so-called ancient site. early Silurian period, where there is a rapid diversification of only vertebrates. “These findings confirm what we’ve been discussing for years” fossilsUniversity of Chicago paleobiologist Michael Coates said.

we knew that toothed fish filled the waters at the time, but didn’t seem to leave enough traces (hence the fossil finds) explain both its origin and diversity. Therefore, it is easy to understand why this latest work is so important: in this pregnant chapter in the history of living things, elements such as the missing link are added. So the same ones that gave rise to the species we know, including ourselves.

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Because ancient fish developed jaws

Paleontologist You-an Zhu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and colleagues collaborating on the study were delighted with the discovery. This rich fossil group has specimens of different species, all toothy and bony fish. armored placoderms and a chondrician. They are essentially creatures that developed the spine about 480 million years ago, and then the jaws. Reason? a simple survival question: they can eat each other better.

Thus we find Xiushanosteus mirabilisis a small fish of basic size, the ancestor of the armored fish, with a large shield covering its bony head and body with tiny hard scales. or again Shenacanthus vermiformisalso small (only 22 mm) and, of course, with bones and cartilages in addition to the jaw.

Genetic analysis will reveal another important thing. It may possibly be the last common ancestor of modern maxillary vertebrates. even older than we thinkcan be dated to the Great Ordovician Biodiversity Event, about 471 million years ago. The rest is history: over time, the jawed fish became a truly global phenomenon, so much so that the Devonian period (419 million to 359 million years ago) earned them the nickname “Age” when they dominated. Pisces”.

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