Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A new 'king' -- New, gigantic, ancient armored fish discovered

12.10.2016

We've all seen "Jurassic Park." We all know T. rex.

But what about B. rex?

Thanks to a team of scientists from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Delaware Valley University, Stanford University and the University of Chicago, a new rex -- Latin for "king" -- is in the mix, with the discovery of Bothriolepis rex, a new, giant in the group Antiarchi, which are extinct fish with external, bony armored plates covering their head, shoulders and front fins.


Fossil bones from the skull of Bothriolepis rex and a line drawing of the head viewed from above. The large, thick bones create an armor with a single opening for the eyes. The mouth is on the lower surface of the skull, indicating a bottom-feeding lifestyle.

Photo by Valentina Garcia, drawing by Jason Downs

The researchers identified the new fish from fossils first discovered in 2000 near Okse Bay on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, Canada. The site, within the Nordstrand Point Formation, features 370 million-year-old fossils from the Devonian Period, a time predating most dinosaurs by hundreds of millions of years.

"Bothriolepis rex extends the range of known body sizes for the group Antiarchi," explained Jason Downs, PhD, a research associate at the Academy and assistant professor at Delaware Valley University. "The large body size and the thick, dense armor present a unique opportunity to address questions about the lifestyle of this unusual group of armored swimmers."

Downs was the lead author on the paper officially describing the fish, which was co-authored by Ted Daeschler, PhD, vice president of the Academy and a professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science in Drexel's College of Arts and Sciences. Valentina Garcia, of Stanford, and Neil Shubin, of the University of Chicago, also served as co-authors on the paper published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

B. rex's size eclipses the previous king of the antiarchs, Bothriolepis maxima. B. rex's body length is estimated at 1.7 meters -- roughly five-and-a-half feet long, about 30 percent longer than B. maxima's estimated length.

The large, thick plates on B. rex's head were found alongside fossils of other species with thick head plates, suggesting that these were necessary to survive the "stabbing bites of large sarcopterygians," which were predatory fish from the same time period.

Despite that armor, the evidence doesn't point to B. rex sharing T. rex's ferocity.

"Bothriolepis is a group of bottom-dwelling armored aquatic vertebrates," Downs said. "The flat bottom and the downward-facing mouth suggest feeding on detritus plant or animal material in the mud or sand. It was not equipped for active predation."

As such, the heavy, compact bones could have also solved buoyancy issues for a fish that spent most of its time on the bottom.

One aspect of the fish immediately challenged the researchers' assumptions.

"Skull shape changes with body size in Bothriolepis," Downs said. "Despite the gigantic size of the B. rex, its skull doesn't reflect our expectations for the size. Instead, the skull shape is suggestive of a smaller Bothriolepis."

A finding like this could alter the way scientists understand the size-shape relationships in Bothriolepis, according to Downs.

Although popular culture tends to think "bigger is better" when it comes to these prehistoric beasts -- which is probably why you're much more familiar with T. rex than Procompsognathus -- it turns out that size may have done B. rex in.

"All antiarchs are extinct by the end of the Devonian Period," Downs said. "We can't know exactly why B. rex went extinct, but large-bodied species are often found to be at a higher risk of extinction than small-bodied ones."

Media Contact

Frank Otto
fmo26@drexel.edu
215-571-4244

 @DrexelNews

http://www.Drexel.edu/ 

Frank Otto | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: armored fish body size fossils gigantic size

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA laser communications to provide Orion faster connections

30.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study

30.03.2017 | Studies and Analyses

Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos

30.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>