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 The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke 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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>