Science

Oldest specimens of an extinct bony fish that lived 244 million years ago are discovered in China

Scientists have discovered the frozen remains of three Peltoperleidus specimens in Chinese soil, the oldest fossils of the bony fish ever discovered.  

The fossils were uncovered in Luoping, eastern Yunnan, China this month  and are the first records of the 244 million year-old fish found outside of Europe – the creature was only known to live in what is now southern Switzerland and northern Italy.  

Each of the specimens have tiny, albeit, sharp teeth, distinctive scales and a blunt snout.

The discoveries also mean Peltoperleidus also lived 2 million years than previously believed – all previous fossils date back to 242 million years ago.

Yu Min, a paleontologist with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times: ‘It is also a sign provided to us to further explore the paleogeographic allocation and distribution of the genus since we see it has been discovered in China when previously we only knew it existed in Europe.’ 

Frozen in sediment are the remains three extinct genus of a bony fish that swam the Earth 244 million years, which scientists confirm are the oldest Peltoperleidus specimens ever to be discovered

Peltoperleidus is a predatory fish that lived during the early Ladinian stage of the Middle Triassic epoch.  

The prehistoric creature had a lower jaw that was suspended directly below the skull so that the mouth could be opened very wide, allowing for larger prey capture.

Peltoperleidus, however, had new developments of their own though.

Unlike earlier fish, Peltoperleidus and its relatives had highly flexible dorsal and anal fins, with a reduced number of fin rays. 

Each of the specimens have tiny, sharp teeth as well as distinctive scales and a blunt snout. The discoveries also mean Peltoperleidus also lived 2 million years than previously believed

Each of the specimens have tiny, sharp teeth as well as distinctive scales and a blunt snout. The discoveries also mean Peltoperleidus also lived 2 million years than previously believed

Unlike earlier fish, Peltoperleidus and its relatives had highly flexible dorsal and anal fins, with a reduced number of fin rays

Unlike earlier fish, Peltoperleidus and its relatives had highly flexible dorsal and anal fins, with a reduced number of fin rays

This evolutionary advancement would have made the fish more agile in the water.

The fish, which was about one inch in length, on average, is fully covered with rhomboidal scales.

The scales are smooth and were arranged in 34 or 35 vertical rows between the pectoral girdle and the caudal inversion.

On each side of the body, there are 14 or 15 scales in the 22nd vertical row, six or seven above the lateral line.

‘Similar to its relatives (represented by P. macrodontus) from Europe, P. asiaticus sp. nov. is likely a small-sized durophagous predator [eating behavior of animals that consume hard-shelled or exoskeleton bearing organisms] with dentition combining grasping and crushing morphologies,’ according to the study.

The study was recently published in the scientific journal Peer J.   

In 2009, Chinese scientists announced the discovery of a different type of bony fish that is earliest known and most preserved to be found in southern China.

The fossils were uncovered in Luoping, eastern Yunnan, China FILL THIS BULLET OUT

The fossils were uncovered in Luoping, eastern Yunnan, China FILL THIS BULLET OUT

In 2009, Chinese scientists announced the discovery of a different type of bony fish that is earliest known and most preserved to be found in southern China. The fossil of a Guiyu oneiros sheds light on the evolutionary history of jawed vertebrates

In 2009, Chinese scientists announced the discovery of a different type of bony fish that is earliest known and most preserved to be found in southern China. The fossil of a Guiyu oneiros sheds light on the evolutionary history of jawed vertebrates

The fossil of a Guiyu oneiros sheds light on the evolutionary history of jawed vertebrates. 

The fish dates 418 million years ago and is about one-foot-long.

Only the tail fin is missing from the fossil that includes intricated details of the fish’s scales.

It has a jaw, which makes it the oldest near-complete jawed vertebrate ever found, and shows that it was lobe-finned, meaning its fins are fleshier than ray-finned fish, and counts among its few living relatives the coelacanths. 

It shows the expected mix of derived and primitive features.

This means that the split between ray-finned and lobe-finned fishes must have happened at least 419 million years ago, suggesting a deep history for jawed vertebrates. 


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