Discovered in China’s Xiaoxiang Reservoir on an unspecified date, a 419 million year old fish fossil with a human jaw offers important evidence on vertebrate evolution. Reuters reports:
Scientists were surprised to find that the heavily armored fish, Entelognathus primordialis, a previously unknown member of the now extinct placoderm family, had a complex small skull and jaw bones.
That appeared to disprove earlier theories that modern vertebrates with bony skeletons, called osteichthyes, had evolved from a shark-like creature with a frame made of cartilage.
Instead, the new find provides a missing branch on the evolutionary tree, predating that shark-like creature and showing that a bony skeleton was the prototype for both bony and cartilaginous vertebrates.
You can read the original scientific report in Nature.
Hailed as the “the most exciting news in palaeontology since Archaeopteryx or Lucy,” the fish finding provides important insight into human evolution. The decision to blow 70 million yuan building a golden fish statue on Yangzhong Island, on the other hand, might prove that we’re de-evolving.