New species of ancient predatory fish discovered

Drs. Edward “Ted” Daeschler and Jason Downs of the Academy and colleagues from the University of Chicago and Harvard University describe the new denizen of the Devonian they named Laccognathus embryi in the current issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The 375-million-year-old beast was discovered by the same group of researchers who discovered Tiktaalik roseae, the important transitional animal considered “a missing link” between fish and the earliest limbed animals. The fossil remains of the new species were found at the same site as Tiktaalik, on Ellesmere Island in the remote Nunavut Territory of Arctic Canada.

The Devonian Period (415 to 360 million years ago) is often described as the Age of Fishes because of the rich variety of aquatic forms that populated the ancient seas, lagoons and streams. Laccognathus embryi is a lobe-finned fish whose closest living relative is the lungfish. The creature probably grew to about 5 or 6 feet long and had a wide head with small eyes and

robust jaws lined with large piercing teeth.

“I wouldn't want to be wading or swimming in waters where this animal lurked,” said Daeschler, co-author of the paper and the Academy's curator of vertebrate zoology. “Clearly these Late Devonian ecosystems were vicious places, and Laccognathus filled the niche of a large, bottom-dwelling, sit-and-wait predator with a powerful bite.”

The researchers named the new species in honor of Dr. Ashton Embry, a Canadian geologist whose work in the Arctic islands paved the way for the authors' paleontological explorations.

The kind of fish known as Laccognathus (translates as pitted jaw) was previously only known from Eastern Europe. The discovery of Laccognathus embryi, the new species, extends the geographic range of Laccognathus to North America and confirms direct connection of the North American and European landmasses during the Devonian Period.

“This study is the culmination of a lot of work in the field, in the fossil lab, and in the office,” said Downs, lead author of the study. Downs, an Academy research associate and a visiting professor at Swarthmore College, started studying fossils in high school as an Academy volunteer. “Our team collected the first fossils of Laccognathus almost 10 years ago, and the collection has grown with each subsequent field season. The quality and quantity of this collection will continue to shed new light on these unusual animals.”

Other scientists who collaborated on the new discovery are Dr. Farish Jenkins Jr. of Harvard University and Dr. Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.

Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences is America's oldest natural history museum and a world leader in biodiversity and environmental research. For nearly 200 years, the Academy has carried out its mission to encourage and cultivate the sciences, exploring the remarkable diversity of our natural world and sharing these discoveries with the public through innovative exhibits, publications, and educational programming. HOURS: Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. ADMISSION: $12 adults; $10 children 3-12, seniors, college students, military personnel; free for members and children under 3. $2 fee for “Butterflies!” PHONE: 215-299-1000

Media Contact

Carolyn Belardo EurekAlert!

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.ansp.org

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Life Sciences

Articles and reports from the Life Sciences area deal with applied and basic research into modern biology, chemistry and human medicine.

Valuable information can be found on a range of life sciences fields including bacteriology, biochemistry, bionics, bioinformatics, biophysics, biotechnology, genetics, geobotany, human biology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, zoology, bioinorganic chemistry, microchemistry and environmental chemistry.

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

AI learns to trace neuronal pathways

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) scientists have taught computers to recognize a neuron in microscope images of the brain more efficiently than any previous approach. The researchers improved the efficiency…

Mystery of giant proton pump solved

Mitochondria are the powerhouses of our cells, generating energy that supports life. A giant molecular proton pump, called complex I, is crucial: It sets in motion a chain of reactions,…

Marine heatwaves are human made

A marine heatwave (ocean heatwave) is an extended period of time in which the water temperature in a particular ocean region is abnormally high. In recent years, heatwaves of this…

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close