380-million-year-old heart fossil found inside ancient fish

380-million-year-old heart fossil found inside ancient fish
380-million-year-old heart fossil found inside ancient fish

Squamous fish were the dominant form of life on Earth for about 60 million years, at least 100 million years before the dinosaurs.

Australian scientists announced that they discovered in the Kimberley region of Western Australia the fossil of a heart 380 million years old, the oldest ever found on Earth. The heart was found along with a separate fossil stomach, intestine and liver in an ancient “armored” fish, named Gogo, shedding new light on the evolution of vertebrate bodies and humans themselves. The fossil is 250 million years older than any previously known fish heart.

The researchers, led by the paleontology professor Kate Trinastic of Curtin University’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences and the Western Australian Museum in Perth, who made the relevant publication in the scientific journal “Science”, found the fossilized organs in the body of a class of fish (arthrodires) belonging to placoderms, the first fish with jaws and teeth. They lived during the Devonian period 420 to 359 million years ago and anatomically resembled today’s sharks. Before the placoderms, the fish did not exceed 30 cm in length, but later they reached nine meters, which is why they became the dominant form of life on Earth for about 60 million years, at least 100 million years before the dinosaurs.

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Discovery is considered highly unusual, because soft tissue, such as that of the heart, is rarely preserved as a fossil, unlike hard bones, and even more rarely in three-dimensional form. The study of the fossils was done with the help of neutrons and X-rays of the European Consortium in France. Gogo’s heart was more complex than expected, having two chambers, a smaller one above a larger one, which eventually evolved into the human heart. The structure of Gogo’s heart allowed him to transform from a slow-moving fish into a speedy predator.

See the scientific publication by clicking here.

“As a paleontologist who has studied fossils for over 20 years, I was really surprised to find a three-dimensional and well-preserved heart in a 380-million-year-old ancestor of ours,” said the lead researcher. As Trinastic said, those ancient fish had their S-shaped hearts almost in their mouths. On the other hand, no evidence of lungs was found at all, which developed later.

Source: RES-EMP

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The article is in Greek

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