New Fossils of 360 Million Year-Old Fishes Discovered

 

Serenichthys coelacanth holotype fossil is shown.

Serenichthys coelacanth holotype fossil is shown. Credit: Wits University

New Fossils of 360 Million Year-Old Fishes Discovered

New fossil specimens of the Coelacanth fish known as “Serenichthys kowiensis” has been found in South Africa on the Eastern Cape, near Grahamstown. The fossils came from black shale which was revealed after local road construction disturbed the area at the site known as Waterloo Farm. These ancient underwater dwellers are some of the oldest in the world and can inhabit the waters at depths of around 2,300 feet (although most dwell at depths of around 300-600 feet). It’s thought by scientists and evolutionary biologists that these fish first appeared on the geological time scale around 420 million years ago at the time of the Devonian era.

What makes this particular fossil discovery so unique is that this genus of fish is thought to be from 360 million years ago. For this particular kind of creature, limb-like fins extrude from the fish’s body—almost like legs. These fish also contain bones which might resemble toes. Scientists speculate that these fish may represent an early step in the evolutionary time scale in the transition from fish to four legged amphibians.

Robert Gess

Dr. Robert Gess

Paleontologist Dr. Robert Gess, who has collected over 30 new fossil finds, stated:

“Remarkably, all of the delicate whole fish impressions represent juveniles. This suggests that Serenichthys was using a shallow, waterweed-filled embayment of the estuary as a nursery, as many fish do today. This earliest known record of a coelacanth nursery foreshadows a much younger counterpart, known from the 300 million year old Mazon Creek beds of Illinois in the United States,”

These fish are closely related to tetra-pods and lungfishes which are creatures that are thought to help form the evolutionary path between sea animals and land dwellers. These fish can weigh up to 175 pounds, with their typical size at around 6.5 feet. It is thought that only two species of this fish exist, with one living off the east coast of Africa by the Comoros Islands and the other in waters of Sulawesi in Indonesia. In 1989 the Coelacanth was considered to be an endangered species by the international community with their current populations estimated to be around 500-1000 remaining in the world. All of the fossil specimens found were sent to the Albany Natural History Museum, in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Professor and fellow researcher, Michael Coates from the University of Chicago stated,

“This glimpse into the early life history of ancient coelacanths raises further questions about the life history of the modern coelacanth, Latimeria, which is known to bear live young, but whether they, too, are clustered in nurseries remains unknown.”

Watch this short video overview about the Coelancanth:

 

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Jeremy C

Jeremy C

Jeremy has specialized in the I.T. field since 2003 and has education in many disciplines including Data Recovery and Radio Frequency Electronics. He has been a researcher of various topics for more than 17 years. These subjects include Analytic Theology, Epistemology, Philosophy, Astronomy, Cosmology, Physics, Metaphysics, Natural History, Ufology, Near Death Experiences, and Philosophy of Religion. When not writing for Dark Matter News, he enjoys making electronic music, operating on Ham Radio, and repairing old tube type Shortwave Radios.

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