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Neurocranial anatomy of an enigmatic Early Devonian fish sheds light on early osteichthyan evolution.

Journal: eLife

Published: 2018-05-29

DOI: 10.7554/elife.34349

Affiliations: 7

Authors: 7

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Research Highlight

Fossilized fish skulls offer heady look at distant past

Reproduced from Ref. 1 via CC-BY-4.0

Reproduced from Ref. 1 via CC-BY-4.0

Meet Ligulalepis, our common fishy ancestor.

Searching in limestone outcrops of New South Wales, Australia, a team led by scientists from Flinders University recently unearthed the second skull found to date — and the most complete one yet — of this tiny prehistoric bony fish.

The researchers applied modern scanning techniques and powerful X-rays to these two preserved specimens — each only about a centimetre across — to reveal hidden features of Ligulalepis’ brain cavity. The 3D anatomical picture helped the team place the 400-million-year-old creature at the base of the evolutionary tree that leads to all bony fish, one offshoot of which includes humans and all other four-limbed vertebrates.

“This resolves the big question about what the ancestor of all modern bony fish looked like,” said Flinders paleontologist and lead study author, Alice Clement, in a press release. The results were published in the journal eLife.

Supported content

  1. eLife 7, e34349 (2018). doi: 10.7554/elife.34349
Institutions Share
College of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, Australia 0.33
Department of Organismal Biology (IOB), UU, Sweden 0.19
Oxford Department of Earth Sciences, United Kingdom (UK) 0.14
Department of Sciences, Museums Victoria, Australia 0.12
Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Netherlands 0.07
ANU Department of Applied Mathematics, Australia 0.07
Australian Museum, Australia 0.07